Howrah is a district which is primarily known as the industrial hub of Bengal. But, since yesteryears, majestic dolls called Rani putul are crafted in various areas of Howrah district. The structure of these dolls might have a resemblance with Shashti putul or Shashti dolls. People residing in South Patil, Narendrapur, Jagatballavpur refer to these magnificent dolls as ‘Rani Putul.’ The artisans of Howrah have been able to hold on to the legacy of the forefathers and still craft these queen dolls in present times. These artisans make these structures in a two-faced mould and fire them. The queen dolls are primarily made up of burnt clay. The modern day artists often apply a coat of paint or glitter to add lustre to these dolls. Some of them are also offered a coat of red paint with mica. Their legs seem to be covered by long ghagras which make the appearance seem royal. Queen dolls stand out in terms of style or pattern in the wide category of Bengals’s dolls.
It may sound surprising but these queen dolls will not remind you of the queens of fairytale wonders like Thakumar Jhuli. Even the artisans say that their unique craftsmanship is not influenced by the myriad fairytales of Bengal. The round face of these dolls might further confuse you. The inspiration of the artisans rather lies in a real life queen made up of flesh and blood. According to art researchers, the artisans make these dolls keeping Queen Victoria in mind.
Queen Victoria’s love and deep connection for Bengal is known to all. She had asked the royal officials to treat India with empathy and love and disestablished the rule of East India Company. Her attitude towards India thoroughly impressed and touched the hearts of Indians. She became the empress of India in 1876 and also received the title of ‘Qaisar-i-Hind’. The popularity of Queen Victoria had also left a deep impact in the Patachitra art of Kalighat. Similarly, the artisans of South Patil or Jagatballavpur crafted Queen dolls whose face had a striking similarity with Queen Victoria. According to the art historians, the attire and hair style of the magenta or red coloured queen dolls also indicate the same. Today, the artisan family of Dibapakar Pal of Howrah still crafts these queen dolls with utmost love. Looking at these, it seems that a human has been transformed into a doll magically.
It is a certainty that the Rani putul or Queen dolls will certainly add a majestic appeal in the décor of your home.
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