Women and Children's World

Sanskriti Museums

Sanskriti Museums
New Delhi, India

Women's Toiletry:
Objects traditionally used by the Indian woman for her make-up are proof of a subtle personal culture of toiletry.
Hair-drying pins of metal with devices for creating rhythmic sound while drying or simply with charming motifs on the handles have come to light, mainly from South India. Metal combs with stunningly simple and elegant forms were also used.
Slender bottles for kohl, used as an eye-liner, or for other cosmetics also had mirrors attached. Collyrium was collected, mixed and stored in specially made kajal-dans of brass. Kankavatis, the containers of red pigment for marking the forehead from Rajasthan and Gujarat often had multiple compartments and were made in many interesting forms. Even an object, like a foot-scrubber was made with great imagination. Metal pieces were sealed inside the hollow space of the scrubber so that they made a rhythmic sound while it was in use. In South India, special cups were made for storing oil and turmeric paste which were applied on the body before taking bath. While going out, Orissan women carried delicately made fish or mango shaped betel containers of metal. A waist-band of brass, meant for a little girl or woman with a narrow waist is noteworthy. A variety of jewellery boxes, some with a lock and key device, were commonly used. Hand-fans of khas grass, bead-work, embroidery or metal with delicately crafted handles in metal or ivory were used by the ladies of the house themselves. Larger ones were waved by servants.

Children's Playthings:
The Sanskrit words for amusement, entertainment, pastime, toy, game, play, sport and dalliance, are all derived from the root krid, meaning “to play”. Accordingly, the word for toy is kridanaka, literally “a plaything”. In fact, the Varaha Purana refers to a toy called kridanaka presented to Skanda, the son of Shiva. The Sanskrit words puttala or puttika, meaning, “a doll” or “a puppet” are of equally interesting origin. Derived from putra, meaning “a son”, the word puttika also denotes “an effigy” or “a replica”.
All traditional Indian dolls and toys, like those in other countries, are replicas of things in the real world. To the microcosm of the child’s world, these toys bring a tangible recognition of the life around it in the form of miniature temples, icons, utensils and other objects from the household and community. Thus, toys are not only sources of delight, but are also educative and act as bridges between the worlds of fantasy and reality from which children journey back and forth with great ease.
Fairs, festivals and weekly markets have been an important feature of the everyday life of rural India. Creative playthings, made in materials ranging from ivory, silver and metal to terracotta, wood, fibres and rags were all sold at these gatherings. Imaginative yet simple and inexpensive, these dolls and toys provided children’s first lessons in form and texture, colour and design, light and sound, thought and feeling. Weekly markets and fairs were thus important in child’s learning experience of the adult world and its complex relationship.


  • Title: Women and Children's World
  • Type: Artefacts

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