Thursday, October 30, 2008

Delight of Photographers

Many visitors to Bombe Mane were also avid photographers. Bombe Mane proved to be a heaven for all these photographers who clicked away to glory. Mr. and Mrs. Kuldeep visited Bombe Mane and enthusiastically photographed all nooks and corners at this expo. Here's the link to Mr. Kuldeep's Webshot site where he has uploaded most of the photographs.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Glimpses of Bombe Mane

Krishna, Radha and their friends are busy preparing for Navaratri and doll festival. Doll festival by dolls - a novel concept of Bombe Mane.

Krishna is arranging dolls on a doll platform, one of the Gopi helps him.

Dolls created from the sketch book of artist Tippaji (contemporary of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III 1794-1868). Musicians, chopdars, title bearers, chauri and chamara bearers, and personal guards (Halay Paiki) who adorned the court of Mummadi have been resurrected as wooden dolls. In the background is the model of old wooden Lakshmi Vilas Palace which was gutted in the fire that broke out during the wedding of Maharajakumari Jayalakshmammanni in 1897.

Eminent artist S.G. Vasudev is enamoured by all the colours, forms and textures of dolls in Bombe Mane during his visit with his family on 26 September 2008.

Tarun and his younger brother Charith are admiring the cricket dolls at Bombe Mane.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Smt. Nandini Eswer, eminent danceuse of Mysuru, graciously inaugurated the exhibition of dolls 'Bombe Mane' on the evening of Thursday 25 September 2008 at Pratima Gallery. Following are a few snapshots of the occassion.

Smt. Nandini Eswer is inaugurating the exhibition by lighting the lamp. Smt. R. Kaladevi, trustee and Sri D. Ram Singh, Chairman, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, look on.

A light moment during the inauguration.
L-R: Raghu, Nandini Eswer, Harinita Singh and Anita Singh.
Smt. Eswer is interested in the doll of one of Vishnu's guardians, Vijaya.
R.G. Singh and Dr. C.R. Dileep Kumar explaining the concept of the oil painting by the artist Manjunath Mane.

Smt. Nandini Eswer going around the exhibition with her grand daughter Poorvi and aunt Dr. Radha.

Smt. Nandini Eswer demonstrating a toy to her grand daughter Poorvi.

Facade of Pratima Gallery decked up to welcome visitors.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bombe Mane 2008

Dolls are objects, crafted out of diverse material, having human features. They are a child's inanimate but silent companions with their ears and arms ever open. Dolls become an extension of a child’s personality. It also becomes a confidante in whom a child, sometimes even a grown up, shares his/her wildest fantasy and deepest secrets. Thus dolls become medium which absorb our varied emotions. In Thailand each child is given a tiny, adorable doll called 'Worry Doll' which is said to take away worries of a child, overnight! A local legend says that if you whisper your worry to that doll and tuck it under your pillow before going to bed, by morning your worries will have disappeared, taken away by these precious dolls.

In south India, a bride brings a pair of dolls (male and female) as part of her bridal trousseau to her new home. These dolls will be her closest friends until she settles there and gains an emotional foothold in the new family. She keeps these dolls with the ones brought from her mother-in-law as a bride. Whenever she goes to a pilgrimage she buys local dolls and adds to the collection. As a tradition, this collection is topped up every year with new dolls.

Dasara or Navaratri begins on the first day of the lunar month of Ashwayuja (September-October); it is celebrated throughout India in different flavours. In south India though, the festival revolves around the worship of the divine feminine that manifests as Prakruti or matter.

Our physical, intellectual and emotional body is limited in its capacity. We have crafted various tools through which we can expand our capacities. These tools are material objects shaped out of matter and are thus considered as manifestations of Devi. Hence, during Dasara, we worship Devi in all her material splendour like food (in the form of seedlings), like tools, weapons, vehicles and money on the day of Ayudha puja, and like learning aides (in the form of books, pens, musical instruments, etc.) on the day of Saraswati puja.

Dolls are worshipped for the same reason on all ten days of gombe habba (doll festival). A vantage place in the house is cleaned and cleared; an altar of five, seven or nine steps is built using wooden planks and draped over with white sheets of fabric. Dolls of every medium, colour, style and religion finds a place on this gombe mettilu (doll altar). King and queen dolls sit at the summit with others sitting elsewhere. Grocer and his wife, dancing girls, boys with pet dogs, cricket players, holy men, national heroes, animals, birds, kitchen utensils, men and women of various professions, etc., are all seated on the steps of the altar. Once ready, the gombe mettilu seems to mimic the society complete with its layers of hierarchical setup.

Mysuru boasts of this rich tradition of dolls which can be traced back to the Vijayanagar Empire. Ramsons feels privileged to be a part of this hoary tradition; since last four decades the shop was locally known as 'gombe angadi' (doll shop) which becomes true during each Dasara. Thousands of dolls travel from every nook and corner of the country to be at Ramsons on Dasara and vie for the attention of doll lovers of Mysuru. They compete among each other to be favoured by doll lovers.

Courtiers, musicians and the famed hale paiki (royal guards with twirled mustache) who adorned the court of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III have been resurrected as dolls in all their splendour in this year's Bombe Mane. They will take you 150 years back in time when Mysuru was witnessing a quiet renaissance in the fields of music, dance, literature, art, craft and culture.

Thousands of dolls speak thousands of tales. Come; listen to these silent tales of beauty and innocence at Ramsons.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Dasara Doll

Devi awaits her servant.
Wrists and elbows, now stiff or dislocated,
will be bent to bless, hold vessel or sword.
Bare limbs and head will be dressed,
ornaments blaze in the colours of divine moods.
Then the eyes will take on kindness or anger,
the mouth grimace or smile.
Others will pronounce her names.
She who holds such power of transformation,
the lady of the house,
is she herself the goddess
or her most intimate friend?
- Dr. Rowena Hill,
Poet, Venezuela

Dr. Rowena Hill is a poet from Venezuela who stayed in Mysore during her higher studies. She used to visit Mysore often, even after completing her studies. She currently resides in Venezuela. During her last visit to Mysore in Dasara 2006, she visited Bombe Mane. There she was intrigued by a doll whose limbs were detachable so that it could be dressed up in different costumes for different days during Dasara. She wrote the above poem as a tribute to that doll.

This doll is called 'keelu gombe' or 'keelu gowri' has been crafted in Kinhala, a hamlet near to Koppala district headquarters in Karnataka. This doll has been crafted by the master craftsman Sri Ekappa Chitragar.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcome to Bombe Mane

Come Dasara and Mysuru becomes a bustling centre of festivities, fun and fantasy. Every night during these 10 days, a gargantuan incandescent word in Kannada - ಸುಸ್ವಾಗತ (susvaagata -meaning welcome) appears magically on the dark south-eastern skyline of the city where during the daylight one would have seen the expansive Chamundi Hill, the silent sentinel of the city.
This is how Mysore welcomes its guests during this festive season. But no such visual invitation is required to go to any stranger's house these days as you can just walk into any house in the evening if the dolls are arranged in that house.

Every house, literally, becomes a doll house for 10 days. Dolls that are being collected since generations are taken out from wooden chests, almirahs, lofts and showcases; they are diligently dusted, and neatly arranged on temporary wooden steps that would have been constructed beforehand.

Pattada Gombe, a pair of dolls (King & Queen) carved out of the rare red sandalwood, are placed at the summit of the arrangement, while other dolls occupy lower steps.

Dolls of every hue and mood vye for the attention of the onlooker and thereby taking him back to the magical world of innocence.