“Few are aware of it, but toy making is an extensive and specialised craft,” shares Mukherjee. Her mother, Ashima Mukherjee, established Priyadarshini Dolls almost four decades ago. “She loved dolls,” smiles her daughter. Today, they engage a team of 18 women who intricately fashion dolls by hand.
Devi Priya Mukherjee with some of her dolls
The Dolls is born
Giving life to a doll is no easy task. “The process includes stitching, stuffing, painting and attaching sequins. It is a long and detailed process — it takes an entire day to make one finished doll. Training a doll maker takes nearly two years. They learn on the job,” explains artisan Arati Dutta.
Interestingly, the faces of the dolls are painted by the same artists who painted Durga idols during Durga Puja. With soulful eyes and delicately poised smiles, the dolls are expertly painted.
The economics of crafting dolls shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. “All the women we employ support themselves with the salary they earn. None of them is educated. So, doll making is their chance to earn a respectable livelihood,” shares Mukherjee.
Better than Barbie
A far cry from Barbie
If you thought dolls were synonymous with Barbies, don’t blame yourself. “Western dolls are marketed so well; we find it difficult to keep up. They are attractively advertised and packaged. So although our basic product is better, we cannot afford the frills and suffer. The government needs to help give us that push,” details Mukherjee. She finds it funny that Priyadarshini’s dolls do brisk business abroad. “Exports are booming, but Indians don’t want Indian goods. It is extraordinary,” she sighs.
This content is originally posted in India Times.
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