Talli bidda, Mother and child. Pigment painting on wood, saw-dust and cow dung models; 15 cm x 14 cm. Andhra Pradesh. c. mid-20th century. 7/3887.
An extremely light wood, locally known as puniki, (Glotia rattle formic) sawdust and cowdung, are used to create beautiful figures such as this mother and child. Essentially play toys for children, these kundanapu bommas, literally “beautiful figures,” are also votive offerings to deities. Especially significant is the model of the child Krishna offered by childless couples. On weekly markets and important festivals such toys including animals and horse riders are locally sold on the streets for very meagre prices.
In this figure the baby, depicted as an extension of the mother’s body, is obviously an attachment in sawdust and cow dung to the main three-dimensional wooden axis of the seated female figure. The extremely simplified toy, painted rather chastely, is nevertheless silently persuasive.