BENGALURU: Sukanya Srinivas, an entrepreneur, is fascinated by dolls and has collected over 2,000 of them over the years. The Director of Arena Animation and VedAtma Animation Studios in Malleswaram says that she got her first doll of Lord Krishna from her grandmother Durgabai 35 years ago.
“I started at a very young age,” she says, “Soon this hobby became a passion and I started hunting for dolls on all my trips across the world.”
She has collected from South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, US and the Middle East, and closer home from Assam, Sikkim, Rajasthan and Andaman islands. There are dolls made from a diverse range of materials including silver, panchaloha, clay, porcelain, cloth, food grains, paper mache, spices, fibre, glass, wood, marble, granite, ivory, leather, soapstone, plastic, seashells and jute.
In Bengaluru there is no one place she heads to. “It can be from anywhere ranging from exhibitions and art stores to local artisans themselves,” she says.
Sukanya says that she prefers handmade dolls and looks for details while making her pick. “They should have the right features, the right texture and anatomy. I am generally quite choosy,” she says.
She says she has longed to own certain kind of dolls and has been lucky enough to get them too. “Like a Lord Ranganatha sculpted from a single stone, which I got in Mahabalipuram, a glass doll of Lord Krishna which was made right in front of me in a village, dolls made from from food grains and betel nuts… Each doll set in my collection comes with a story,” she says.
To maintain these dolls, she says, one needs immense amount of patience and perseverance. “Sometimes it takes days to pack and unpack these dolls,” she says. “Packing involves various layers and it usually tests one’s patience.” She cannot bear the thought of losing even one from her collection. “Dolls are my life,” she says.
Hundred year old and auspicious dolls
Sukanya’s favourite is an ivory idol of Lord Krishna, which is nearly a century old. “It was handed over to my mother-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law, who says that she got it from her elders,” says Sukanya. “Then there are porcelain dolls of Lord Balarama and Krishna, which were made in front of an elder in the family when she was a child and visiting a porcelain factory in some part of Karnataka in the early 1950’s. Then there are various villager and vehicles dolls that my elders used to play with as children.” There is a particular set she is immensely proud of. “It is the set of the wedding of Lord Srinivasa, called Srinivasa Devara Panigrahana, at which all gods and celestials are present… it is supposed to be auspicious for the house that it resides in,” she says.