A dolls’ house

Poorna Kulkarni
Friday, 10 May 2019

Check out the Japanese and traditional Indian dolls that have been crafted by Jayant Sathe. The exhibition is underway in the city till Sunday

For the sixth consecutive year, octogenarian Jayant Sathe, popularly called Sathe Kaka, will be holding his doll exhibition in the city. Sathe, who became an engineer out of compulsion, was in his late 50s, when he started crafting dolls. 

Says Sathe, who is the founder of Creative Hands and has come up with the theme of Japanese dolls and dolls representing Indian culture, “I was inclined towards arts since my school days, but I became an engineer out of compulsion. I came across one article which said that in the US, people in their 40s take up different professions and are even successful at them. I thought if thy can succed there, why can’t we pursue our passion here in India? So after fulfilling my household responsibilities and commitements, I started working on pottery, terracotta. I also used to take ceramic painting classes and then moved on to handicrafts.”

Now 84, Sathe Kaka believes that handicrafts, shaping dolls with wire, fabric and dental stone (higher version of POP) gives him a purpose, a solace. He says, “Today, not many take up this craft because it’s time consuming, or because it has no commercial value. But I derive positivity from this work.” 

With the emergence of online games and plenty of options in toys, the dolls don’t allure the kids as much as they did in the past. When asked about this, he says, “I don’t blame them. We must give the children an interesting substitute that will generate their interest in it.” He further adds, “This exhibition is not only for kids but for people of all ages and all walks of life. For instance, if I display dolls representing our past culture (like the woman using stone grinder or a doll of Warkari (pilgrim), to a middle-aged lady who is aware of their cultural representation, she might choose them to explain our traditions to her children.”

The doll maker says that there are two types of dolls. One is what you play with and the other is meant for display, a show piece. With his work, he has also demonstrated that men are comfortable with dolls, which have always been considered feminine, pretty and delicate, something that “girls play with”. 

Coming to his weekend exhibition, Sathe Kaka says, “I am displaying more than 100 dolls, who are about 16 inches tall in the exhibition. I saw imitations of Japanese dolls in the market and that served as a trigger point. I knew the traditional form of making the dolls, so I got these imitation ones and examined how they were made. I did reverse engineering on them to create dolls that looked more like originals. Most people who are familiar with the Japanese dolls have told me that the dolls I made bear a 95 per cent resemblance to the original ones.”

Considering his skillset, he gets requests to conduct hobby classes. But he has had to refuse because of the age factor. However, he is open to making customised dolls. “Once I got a request from a man whose girlfriend had cleared medicine. He wanted a doctor doll for her. I asked for two weeks time frame to manufacture one and presented him with a doll with stethoscope and a lab coat,” adds Sathe Kaka.

If you are impressed with the collection of dolls at the exhibition and want to try your hands at making them, then pick up the craft kits that are available for sale at the venue. 

ST Reader Service 
Sathe Kaka’s annual doll exhibition will be held from May 11-13, between 10 am and 8 pm at Balasaheb Thackeray Art Gallery, Shukrawar Peth. Entry is free 

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