About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

L is for Leader[s] of India

No branding on this as there often wasn't with these terracotta imports, but having only recently watched Gandhi for the umpteenth time it's amazing how easy it is to recognise some of the characters from these crude castings, although castings isn't really the right word, they are hand-sculpts, if placed side-by-side with a duplicate set you'd find each is slightly different, slightly unique.

Box is in the Britains or 'British' toy soldier style, red-paper, laminate/covering but with only small labels on the ends rather than the expansive full-lid labels of Britains and Britain's own!

The funny thing is the printers decorative blocks, which on the Sanskrit label are all neat with all the trefoils facing out; three at each end, but on the English language label, there are four at one end, pushing the long-line down the label and leaving a right buggers-muddle at the other end - an apprentice typesetters' Friday effort?!

The leaders, I suspect at least one is missing but I don't know which one; it's just that a nine-count is an odd number (obviously Hugh!)  and more so with the space still available in the box - you know what I mean.  The set is a mix of pre-Independence leaders 'of the people' (Indian National Congress, Muslim League and minority representatives) and post-Independence Prime Ministers.

The following list is not necessarily correct, nor accurate in name-spelling (or thumbnail-biog's!) and stands to be corrected, but it's the best I can come up with at short-notice, with help both from my mother - who was there (grandfather had a role to play) - and the few illustrations in Alex Von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer and Leonard Mosley's The Last Days of the British Raj.

1 - Indira Gandhi - 3rd Prime Minister of India, Nehru's daughter
2 - Liaquat Ali Khan - Muslim League
3 - Vallabhbhai Patel - Parsee Leader/Representative
4 - Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru (née Gandhi) - 1st Prime Minister [Rashtrapati] of India
5 - Mohandas Karamchand 'Mahatma' Gandhi
6 - Surup 'Nan' Nehru [née Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit], wife of Pandit Nehru, carrying a young Indira Gandhi
7 - Lala Lajpat Rai - Punjabi Author
8 - Abdur Rab Nishtar - Dallit Spokesman (Bengali?)
9 - [Mohammed] Ali 'Jin' Jinnah - Muslim League and First Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Quaid-e-Azam or 'great leader'

Missing but possibly/likely candidates for one of the figurines [missing or] above are;

* - Lal Bahadur Shastri - 2nd Prime Minister of India
* - Chakravarty Rajagopalachari, Mountbatten's replacement as Governor General (Britain's representative) and a possible/likely for 3
* - Madeleine Slade (the Mahatma's English follower) could be a possibility for 6, but it seems her role was enhanced in the movie, over her importance to the historical narrative, especially in the context of an Indian made set of 'leader' figures, produced decades after the events depicted in the movie
* - K R Kripalani was involved in the talks with British Government at which most of the above were also present?
* - Baldev Singh - spokesman for the Sikh community, pencilled-in as an alternative for 7, he would have had a beard though
* - Sheikh Abdulla - Chief negotiator for the Kashmir and other possible for 7

Also I'm not happy about 2, the glasses are right, but I can't find a picture of him in that kind of costume?

2-7 in close-up, construction is similar to my charity-shop musicians (seen here a couple of years back) with a basic wire-armature holding the low-temperature fired, hand-made, clay model together, painting is mostly matt, either poster-paint or emulsion of some kind and the green bases are given a 'posh' glazed-plinth look with a dip in ink - which has also provided for the footwear!

I assume - due to the hand-made/hand-finished nature of these figures, that there would be a team working on them with each worker producing many like-examples of the figure they have practised-on or perfected? And . . . while they are crude and - it's fair to say - very stylised, they are nonetheless recognisable and that's a clever trick, that's actually art.

From left to right; 1, 8 and 9 similarly closed-up on, with a study of the base underside; there are no obvious markings on any base. Jinnah's height and mean-look has been captured very well, as has Indira's appearance and the angry flick of white through the black hair over her brow which I remember from childhood news footage.


Brian Carrick said...

Nice find Hugh, an unusual addition for anyone who collects personality figures. Incidentally, my mother was also working in India at this time, she had a lot of interesting tales to tell.

Hugh Walter said...

I love them Brian, I can remember when they were quite common still at the London shows, but I missed the guy stalling-out himself when he was importing them (before my 'public' time!), can you remember his name?


Brian Carrick said...

No, sorry I don't remember his name.

Hugh Walter said...

I'll ask JB, he's a mine of info. on such things!