Dolls & Toys of Odisha

Dolls & Toys of Odisha


Burgarh in the Sambalpur district of Odisha is famous for its stylised wooden toys. The animal figures are richly caparisoned and, at times, even carry riders, thus times portraying strength and power. Some of these birds and animals are mythical in character. One of the most striking toys is a lion with a fat and squat body and a big stylised neck, with its face and head richly ornamented. This lion is sometimes riding on a brightly caparisoned elephant locally called Gajasinha. The toys are made of a light cream coloured and finely textured wood, the local name for which is gamhari. The wood is brightly painted. Burgarh: Wooden painted toys are made in the Burgarh area of Sambalpur in Odisha. These toys depict birds and animals, images of gods and goddesses, and human figures. All these are carved with great skill, coloured brightly, and made in the folk style. Gamhari is the local wood used for the carvings as it has a fine texture and is light-cream colour. The carvers and folk painters of Bargarh are now also making bowls, boxes, lamp stands, and other items for household use. Puri: Wooden toys here are also made of painted wood but are quite abstract in composition. The toys of Puri are usually figures of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balaram, popularly known as bara thakur. These toys have a huge head, and eyes that are round or elongated, covering half the face, and short stunted hands. They have no legs and are always found squatting on the ground. One of the popular figures is that of Ravan with 10 heads in bright colours. There are also painted horses and elephants. Saki, the local name for a maiden companion is a colourfully attired woman adorned with ornaments.

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