The Smritsonian - Handmade Indian Dolls
Smriti Lamech left the bustle of the city for a slower pace of life in the Tamil Nadu Hills. There she came across Prowess, a female self help group that made stuffed toys. During the pandemic the demand had dropped. Smriti had the idea for the women to make zero waste, plastic free, fabulous feminine icons instead. Thus a collaboration between The Smritsonian and Prowess began. I came the dolls and knew instantly they were something I needed to share with others.
A bommai is a traditional Indian doll found in the South of the country. The dolls are inspired by Steiner's philosophy, they are faceless, simple dolls made from natural fibres. It's not just a doll toy but an inspiring figure with cultural and social significance. The dolls are modelled on astronaut Kalpana Chawla, educationist and anti-caste revolutionary Savitribai Phule, writer Maya Angelou and artist Frida Kahlo. All of them women who broke the rules in a patriarchal world and dared to dream.
Smriti Lemech says 'I started The Smritsonian, a few months ago for one reason alone... Because I wanted us to appreciate women everyday, not just on Women's Day. Don't call us goddesses, don't call us delicate. Because sometimes we're all of that and sometimes we're none of that.'
Made of pure cotton, the Bommai are inspired by feminist icons, each one a role model in their field, the dolls come with accessories like a book and pencil or palette, pillow, sleeping bag and, in Kalpana’s case, a rocket.
Smriti represents for us all what we love about the emerging strength of Indian women. She has a voice and is not afraid to use it.