New Delhi: On the 60th anniversary of India-Japan friendship, the first show of 500 traditional Japanese dolls from the Edo period, some costing up to Rs.70,000, is on in the capital.
A total of 103 dolls from the collection have been donated to the Shankar International Dolls Museum here as a gesture of friendship.
The three-day exhibition of Edo-Kimekomi dolls, some taking two years to complete, opened Saturday at the Lalit Kala Akademi.
Inaugurating it, Japanese ambassador Akitaka Saiki said the showcase was an attempt to promote the ancient tradition of Japanese doll making in India.
The tradition of Edo dolls dating back to 1603 AD is part of the country`s religious and historical legacy.
It is said that the tradition of Edo dolls were invented by a high-ranking shrine priest Tadashige Takahashi in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan.
The body of the dolls is made of wood and the Kimono fabric is carefully tucked into the carved grooves of the wooden body.
The doll is completed by adding a painted head with supporting neck that is made of a light wood known as paulownia.
This method of making dolls gradually spread from old Kyoto City to Tokyo, formerly known as Edo.
Each doll requires an average of two years to complete and costs between Rs.3,500 and Rs.70,000.
The dolls at the showcase in India have been made by nearly 200 women of one of Tokyo`s biggest traditional doll-making organisations, "Sachiei-Kai".
The dolls - standalone and in clusters - are narratives from Japanese children folk tales and festivals. A section of the exhibition is devoted to the seven Japanese gods of bounty.
"There are two kind of dolls, one handmade and another made of moulds. The handmade ornate dolls cost more to make while those crafted in moulds cost around Rs.3,000. The material is expensive. It takes a year of two to make a doll," doll maker Kyoei Machida, a member of Sachiei-Kai, told reporters.
Fifty senior women doll makers from Japan are in India for the show.
Machida said "her organisation, which began with 400 members and is now down to 200 doll makers, is a non-profit one working to revive the tradition of doll making among youngsters.
"Women and children have no time for making dolls because everyone is working. The inroad of Western influences is killing the tradition," she said.
The doll makers want to collaborate with Indians who have a diverse and rich tradition of making wooden, clay, cloth and plastic dolls.
"We have invited Indian doll makers to Japan," Machida said.