Monthly Archives: October 2015

Festivals (2): Wooden Toy displays during Navratri

Standard

 

                                     A Very Happy Navratri  

Navratri, literally meaning nine nights. It is one of the popular Hindu festivals celebrated all over India, regional festivities being quite diverse. In South India, no Navratri celebration at home, is complete without the grand display of dolls, known as ‘Bommala Kollu.’

My friend invited me for this occasion recently .

Bommala Kollu - doll display during Navratri

Bommala Kollu – doll display during Navratri

A lot of enthusiasm, planning, taking out the packed boxes from the attic, arranging the display and then re -packing of these traditional wooden dolls sets off the festive spirit, as children and the women engage themselves. Markets in South Indian cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru come alive with colour and enthusiasm as cardboard boxes are opened out on roadside stalls, shops or temple premises. A general frenzy, chaotic buzz and enthusiasm filled with colour and artistic talent is heightened as Navratri approaches. Wooden dolls from Kondapalli, the hub of creation are most sought after.

Around the 16th century, some ‘kalakaar’ artists from Rajasthan are said to have migrated to Kondapalli in Andhra Pradesh. Since then they have made such brightly coloured, eco-friendly wooden toys made from ‘Eru’ wood and using only natural dyes for colouring. Today, low-cost enamel paint is widely used instead of natural colouring.

Wooden dolls depicting rural life activity

Wooden dolls depicting rural life activity

What is the symbolic meaning behind the arrangement? The nine steps symbolize the nine days and nine incarnations or Goddess Durga, who is symbolic of female energy, triumph of good over evil and slaying the demon Mahishasura (negative forces within).

The lowermost steps symbolize human life in action, people doing their karmic activities, seeking knowledge as they lead lives (dolls depicting scenes of farms, wooden huts, women pounding rice, planting and gathering vegetables. Progressively the steps project higher attainment of knowledge (dolls of noble kings and queens, Buddha, Rama, and other saints). On the topmost step is placed the Supreme Godhead or Truth (dolls or thematic statues made from Plaster of Paris or paper machie of Dasha Avataram or the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu).

 

Dolls - Goddess Durga and incarnations, King and queen , spinning doll

Dolls – Goddess Durga and incarnations, King and queen , spinning doll

The spinning or dancing doll is another favourite is many households, gifted to the girl child as her earliest doll.

Courtesy: Internet ( The Hindu)Spinning doll made from paper machie

Courtesy: Internet ( The Hindu)Spinning doll made from paper machie

A dying art and tradition it is today, as the world of plastic and technology prevail! Simple long-lasting and eco-friendly dolls, once treasured as a plaything, have become collectibles, if at all.

The palanquin wedding doll set is often gifted to newly wed daughters as a  symbolic tradition of life. Also banks, corporates and interested people are making efforts to gift these toys, ensuring the livelihood and empowerment of the ‘kalakaar’ artist.

On your part – think tradition, eco-friendly and Art. Gift children such unique hand made toys. Colour, Art and beauty of the Kondapalli dolls is sure a pleaser to the senses.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Therapeutic Craft : Crochet Blankets

Standard

 

It’s common knowledge that brain games like Suduko, crossword puzzles and the like promote neuro pathways that help improve cognitive therapy. But what about serene, arm-chair craft like needlework, crochet and  knitting as meditative therapy?

Research has proven that they do calm the mind and body, the lulling effect created by repetitive to and fro needle movement and concentration. No wonder doctors (and jail programs) recommend such craft to patients! Colour matching and coordination, hand eye coordination are other benefits. There is also the social part. Group teaching and learning offers a creative and fun environment and opportunities for new friendships. Read here –

http://blog.lionbrand.com/2015/01/21/6-reasons-why-knitting-and-crochet-group-therapy-works/

My interest in crochet was recently rekindled by a dear friend Lesley. Saying goodbye was not easy, as tears rolled down our cheeks. And more tears (this time of joy) as she put a colourful, hand-made crochet blanket around my shoulders. What a lovely gift! Thank you.

Colourful Granny square blanket

Colourful Granny square blanket

Choosing the right colour combinations as well as a pattern to suit the yarn is as important as the needle work.

This blanket consists of  using Granny square blocks of 5 inch in multiple colours. Granny blocks made in a single colour are great for beginners. This blanket has 7 rows of blocks. After joining them together, the border is made of 4 rows of a cluster treble stitch. One row of single crochet in the base colour provides a neat finish. The square woollen blanket measures 54 inches.

Granny square blanket

Granny square blanket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, off you go find some yarn and a needle and practice some granny blocks for yourself. Bella Coco tutorials on You Tube are a good start, or join a crochet class and make new friends.

 

‘One loss opens doors to another gain.’ Goodbye Lesley. Hello crochet.

Since then I’ve been ‘hooked’ on and busy practising beginner stitches and patterns. I decided to make ‘Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’ themed blanket using the solid granny square blocks. A perfect way for beginners to learn and repeat a new stitch, so meditative. Choosing colour combinations, placing the blocks together to create the right effect, choosing a stitch to join them, and finally learning more techniques for a neat finish are some of the things I learned in the process, as I often sat quietly crocheting in a corner.

To read /listen to Elmer the elephant story see here:

Here is the blanket I have just completed. Do you like the bold colours?

Elmer the Elephant themed crochet blanket

Elmer the Elephant themed crochet blanket

To make a solid granny square see here

These are samples of the solid granny blocks I made. Then I used the chain stitch to join them together.

crochet squares- solid granny pattern

crochet squares- solid granny pattern

For a dainty contrast to the bold colour blocks, I made a shell scallop edge using 5 trebles in the ‘home’ stitch.

Shell scallop edging for crochet blanket

Shell scallop edging for crochet blanket

 

Here is sampler Granny square block I’m currently working on. Love the Elmer theme, just changed the pattern.

Sampler: Elmer the Elephant themed Granny square block

Sampler: Elmer the Elephant themed Granny square block

What’s my next project ? Wait and see….

Till then, happy hooking 🙂 Hope I’ve inspired you to begin a new craft.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer