Toy animals. Pigment painting on paper and cow dung models; 10 cm x 15 cm; 12 cm x 14 cm; 11 cm x 12 cm. Orissa, c. mid-20th century. VC.
In Puri, and to some extent in Raghurajpur, there exists a tradition of making wonderful light weight figures, also known as gobar kandhayi, or “toys made from cow dung”. Unlike the papier mache technique, the toys are created by covering a clay model of the envisaged toy with layers of old paper moistened with water and gum. A string placed beneath these layers, along the central horizontal axis of the model, is then gently jerked out, effectively causing the paper model to be cut in half. The inner clay mould is removed and the hollow paper image put back together with the help of gum and cow dung. The surface is then smoothened and painted, initially in base white, upon which the bright colours of facial and other details are added. Often such toy animals, with moveable heads, are also made in very large sizes.