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Manipur's Doll Maker: Know About the 58-year-old Doll Making Artist from Manipur

A man from Imphal continues the century-old practice. Ibomcha Singh makes traditional dolls which are handcrafted and are an integral part of the Manipur art and culture

Manipurs Doll Maker: Know About the 58-year-old Doll Making Artist from Manipur

Sentinel Digital Desk

Doll Making Artist from Manipur: Dolls have been an integral part of the Manipur culture. The Northeast State Manipur has an extravagant art and culture to offer to the world. Doll-making art has been a 100-year-old skill of the Manipuri culture.

However, with time and age, doll-making art has got submerged under urban ways of life. But there are people like Konsam Ibomcha Singh who have kept the art alive in people's lives and the culture. He is a 58-year-old man from Imphal East, Manipur.

He was born in a culturally blessed family and his father Konsam Tona Singh had been a national awardee in the Dolls and Toys category. Ibomcha Singh's mother Konsam Ongbi Gambhini Devi has also been a national awardee for the famous 'Kauna' craft, an art of making handcrafted items from the water reed grass.

Alike his parents Ibomcha is also blessed with and skill of doll making. He adapted his father's technique and has also received the Manipur State Award. He is known by most people in his region and he stays 3km away from the marketplace. One can get the address to his place from anybody in the market. Ibomcha talking about doll-making art said that his fathers traditionally made dolls and today he is the only one in the region to be making this style of dolls.

These traditional dolls are commonly known as 'Laiphadibi' or 'Laidhibi' was made by older women from waste clothes. These were generally made for children and the tradition states that these dolls have feelings. In the old times, children were told to keep the dolls safely tucked in the baskets or they will wander and will cry the entire night under the banana plant.

Talking about the technique in the making Ibomcha said they have modified the traditional ways a bit to make the dolls more durable and to get a uniform surface. Now the dolls are made with dried grass and are given shapes with thin wires and then they are glued with a cloth. The next step is to smear the doll with clay and a fine powder of grass and is dried in the sun. After, this they smoothen the surfaces of the dolls and paint them. This technique is alike the techniques used in the making of the clay idols of deities in the Hindu Culture.

Ibomcha Singh's wife also contributes to the process of doll making by stitching beautifully embellished attires with different fabrics for the dolls. The specialty of these dolls is that these are all handmade dolls and no modern technology is used in the making of them. Ibomcha Singh has a variety of dolls in his collections starting from Manipuri soldier dolls, tribal dancers, women performing household duties, and more. Each doll takes about a week to be ready therefore he charges the dolls from Rs. 1000.

Ibomcha now gets bulk orders from the Government, banks, and other sectors and they use his dolls as gifting purposes and to display them. He doesn't have further plans to do any online marketing but is willing to take orders over a call and customize dolls for any customer and get it couriered to them. He believes mass production will hamper the quality of his dolls. He has also taught this art in many seminars and events and workshops and is currently training 3 students under him and hopes to take this form of art forward and keep it alive.

To get in touch with Konsam Ibomcha Singh, you can call: 9856507466/7005246634.

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