Written by Monika Asthana
They are dancers representing various forms — Kathak, Lavani, Bharatanatyam and Manipuri — with their dresses draped and hairstyles in place. They are also dolls created by Jayant Sathe, 84, the founder of ‘Creative Hands’ and an expert doll-maker. Sathe started making dolls when he was well into his 50s, after a career in engineering.
“Since my early school days, I have had a keen interest in the arts. As professions such as medical science and engineering were considered to be respectable, I chose to pursue a specialisation in mechanical engineering… I worked in the profession till I was 55 years old. After completing all my responsibilities towards my profession and my family, I decided to do something for myself,” says Sathe.
He started making ceramic articles like mugs and showpieces, before specialising in the creation of unique dolls by using his engineering skills. Sathe also learned the old Japanese art of doll making. “In Japan, women do not usually wear jewellery. They wear elegant kimonos and accessorise their hair. While making Japanese dolls, I kept this in mind so as to correctly portray the culture,” says Sathe.
While he has made several dolls, Sathe says, “No two dolls are the same. I play with the colour of their skin, experiment with their hairstyle and design different combination of clothes for each new doll”.
In India, he learned a few techniques from Manorama Khadpe, a well-known doll-maker based in Thane. “India is a land of diverse cultures. I try to incorporate those traditions and cultures while making dolls. There are various practices such as the use of sil-batta for grinding, okhali-musal to separate hard shells from grains… . I try to make these dolls represent these small techniques once used by home-makers. This is my way of educating the younger generation about these techniques,” he says.
Sathe also emphasises on the selection of material, colour, texture and durability. “The makeup and clothing play a vital role in making these dolls look realistic. The dresses of Bharatanatyam, Lavani, Kathak and Manipuri dancers are draped and not stitched. The jewellery and hairstyle are also taken into account,” he says.
“People from different countries come to visit me. They take these dolls either as gifts for their loved ones or just for the sake of memory. I want to make sure that my dolls symbolise Indian culture in the best possible manner…,” he says.
Sathe will display his artwork in an exhibition at the Thakre Art Gallery from May 11 to 13.