Thanjavur Dancing Dolls

Thanjavur Dancing Dolls

Thanjavur is a heritage city in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and richly immersed in culture, arts and history. It has been the ruling capital of past empires that have left their imprint on the fabric of this city. The 11th-century Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the ‘Great Temple’ stands testimony to the successful rule of Raja Raja Chola.

Similarly, Thanjavur is famous for its unique style of painting that originated here. Other than this, the Thanjavur Dancing Dolls are very famous and said to have originated here in culture-rich Thanjavur during the reign of King Sarboji in the 19th century. What’s more, these types of dolls have been given their own geographical indicator Status by the Government of India in 2008 -2009.

The Tanjore or Thanjavur dancing dolls are handmade individually using old, traditional methods. These bobble-head or roly-poly dolls are created using various materials including paper mache, plaster of Paris, terracotta or very light wood. They are crafted by traditional artisans who have been in the business for generations and have mastered the fine art of balance in these dolls.

In the local Tamil language, they are called Thanjavur Thalayatti Bommai which translates to ‘Thanjavur Head-shaking Doll’. The head of these dolls is detachable and their center of gravity and body weight is always located towards its core at the lowest point. With the base always being heavier and larger than the top, the doll tends to oscillate in a continuous dancing motion at the slightest touch of the breeze. The dance-like movements slow down into slow oscillations before stopping. They make great souvenirs and showpieces for your display cabinet and are great conversation starters too!

Aside from the standing types of Thanjavur dolls, there are also the round-bottomed or round-pot rocking doll types. Traditionally, the latter types of dolls are made in pairs, representing a king and queen and are most probably a throwback to Thanjavur’s tryst with numerous dynasties. The round-bottomed dolls are traditionally called ‘Thanjavur Gundusatti Bommai’ and gently rock back and forth when touched. These dolls come in brightly hued colors and are a delight to watch as they move rhythmically.

A visit to Thanjavur isn’t complete without buying a Thanjavur doll as a memento. Getting to this city of cultural heritage is easy as it’s well connected with great highways and railways. Neighboring Trichy provides airport connections. You could stay over at the classy Sangam hotel where you can get royally pampered and experience the true heritage of this great city. Get more information here: