The state of Clay West Bengal in India has a rich tradition of making clay toys for a very long time. These clay toys have a distinct place among other many art forms. This craft of pottery is practiced by people of a particular village in west Bengal and some places like Goalpara in Assam. Children start learning this craft at a very early age, but it is said that anyone can become proficient in the art of clay toy making only at the age 15.
This is said to be a seasonal craft and these clay toys are made only during the festival of Shyama Chak. During this festival, girls and potters mold the images of Shyama or Lord Krishna. After the festival is over, the potters become busy in making other household essentials.
The clay is molded to desired shape and then baked or dried in the sun. After this process, it is either painted or it is left crude. These figurines are mostly flat at the back and the desired image is obtained at the front with all the necessary curves. They are usually 3 to 5 inches in height but it can also be up to 1 foot. Clay toys are considered as a visual connection between the soul and God.
When the child has advanced a bit and created a head with legs (a baby, a self, or a doll), my open question might ask, “Whom would the baby (or girl or boy) like to play with?” Soon the child will be busy creating a playmate. The child may then carry on a dialogue between the two clay toys. With a bit of practice, this kind of creative thinking and making becomes second nature for the child. Adult supervision can become more and more passive—only needing to express profound wonder and amazement to urge the child to continue the creative play with the pretend theater of characters. With more open motivational questions, it may soon become elaborated with props such as clay cooking pots, cars, trucks, and so on all made as needed.