“Gombe” a show of Magical Puppets in Delhi

The popular art form Gombe or the wooden sculptures is being showcased at an ongoing exhibition at Art Konsult Gallery at Hauz Khas in Delhi

Photo courtesy: Facebook
Photo courtesy: Facebook


The picturesque Kannal village in Koppal district of Karnataka, which is a melting pot of culture is known for its treasures of folk music and dance, and art and craft traditions that date back to ancient India. One such art form popularly known as Gombe or the wooden sculptures is being showcased at an ongoing exhibition at Art Konsult gallery at Hauz Khas in Delhi. The show aims to ignite a spark of interest in others to research on this exceptional art form.

The show organised by MATI (Management of Art Treasures of India) has on display sculptures that are replicas of the traditional Hindu temples and idols in southern India.

Photo courtesy: Facebook
Photo courtesy: Facebook

Locally known as Gaarudi Gombe, which means magical dolls in the Kannada, the art form has evolved over the years, says Anindya Kanti Biswas, assistant professor at Delhi college of arts.

“With the help of various communities, the art and craft of this area has evolved with time. Like other parts of the country, artisans in this area have been randomly practising their own traditional as well as creative ideas,” he says.

The walls of the gallery are adorned with colourful sculptures of door jambs and Hindu gods and goddesses, which are identical to the intricate carvings on the temple walls.

One of the sculptures titled Brahma -- the creator showcases the idol placed inside a door jamb.

Gombe, in many ways, is similar to Odisha’s traditional art form Pattachitra, and the Warli art from the Gujarat- Maharashtra border, where the tiger is worshipped.

The art form is also a significant contributor to the folk dance performances in the region, as it supplies giant doll-suits made of bamboo sticks which are worn by dancers.

Talking about the origin of the Gombe, Kanti narrates a short story from the epic Mahabharata.

“When Krishna’s wife Satyabhama was angry with him, he is said to have pacified her by wearing a Gaarudi Gombe doll. There are several such stories which establish the relevance of the art form.”

This exhibition is third in the series on indigenous art celebrating completion of Twenty Years of Art & Deal Publication. Started on July 7, the exhibition is set to continue till July 22.

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