Traditional handmade toys from India are often regarded not just as craft but Art as well. I can totally see why. I fell head over heels in love with these Ganeshas which I found in a "higher end" shop at Little India. The bigger 6 of them ( 2 3/4" high and 1 1/4" wide) are musicians playing different traditional Indian instruments. The 2 smaller ones (3/4" wide and 1 3/4" high) depict Ganesh in prayer positions, riding what look like cats.
I have never bought anything from this "higher end" shop (although I browse there often) because it is priced for tourists. There is however very little I can do when love strikes. You just obey your heart and throw caution to the winds.
I asked the shopkeeper where the toys are from. She told me Mumbai *roll my eyes.
After a bit of research, I found an online shop selling the wooden figure of a 10 headed Ganesha (left) (am I missing something? 9 heads no?). The description says the figure has been carved and painted by the artisans of Andhra Pradesh in India – a state famous for its woodcraft traditions.
But then I also found this set of 6 musicians (right) and the description says they are made by a group of artisans in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
This last pic I found are of the ones I bought but there is no description.
So if anyone knows the origins of my Ganesha musicians, I will really appreciate if you can leave a comment at this post or email me the information.
Anyway, as luck will have it, I also found 6 little gendang ("double headed") drums at another shop (one of them has already been used):
I have been looking for mini Indian musical instruments for ages. The drums, which begun life as keychains, were perfectly scaled at 1 1/2"-1 1/4" tall and about 1"wide. They are decorated with Arabic scripts on both sides. Stall owner told me they were made in Malaysia. Wrong! It's Indonesia.
Little India is so addictive that I can walk the same street 2 days in a row. The set of clay dolls below were purchased the day before:
The old man lying in his blue chaise lounge was the reason I bought the whole lot. At first, I thought them too crude but when I placed them in a scene (which will be posted later), I realise what treasures they in fact are. Although slightly smaller than the other glamour dolls I have , they are giants on "character" and I love them better. They will be perfect as my villagers. Again, the shopkeeper was unable to tell me much but I did find this post about traditional clay dolls from Punjab.
Just before I ended the day at Little India, I found these baskets/trays/cages :
I was told that they are mini "bird traps" but of course, I did not believe Mr WillYouJustPayUp&NotAskSoManyQuestions. He was close though, I found out that they are actually miniature fish traps (less than 2" tall) . These "traps" are going to figure quite prominently in my project. I fear though that some of you will not approve of my use but trust me, they will help in reflecting a very real part of what's life like in 19th century India, maybe even now.