Channapatna city is famous as “Gombegala ooru” (toys town) in Karnataka. the name itself suggests what it is famous for- wooden toys. it is located in between Bangalore-mysore highway. Channapatna toy makers keep one of our oldest traditions alive, Channapatna is a small city yet it has a prominent name in the field of art and handicrafts. The lacquered channapatna wooden toys are known for their highly fashionable appeal which is made with bright and vivid colours. The finishing of these wooden toys is very smooth and eco friendly.
History indicates that the origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of Tipu Sultan who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of wooden toys. Bavas Miyan is the father of Channapatna Toy. He is the one who sacrifice his life for channapatna toys. He adopted Japanese technology for toys making and help the local artisans improve their art.
Channapatna toys are made of a specific type of wood called “Aale mara” (Ivory- wood). For nearly two centuries, ivory-wood the main wood which were used in the making of these toys,though rosewood and sandalwood were also occasionally used.
Geometrical instruments like the vernier caliper and the divider is used frequently to measure the size and maintain the accuracy.at this stage the product is removed from the lathe and in case of two different parts they are assembled together and then followed with suface embellishment which involves other decorative adorning on the surface of the toy.
the natural vegitable colour extracted from natural element as yellow from turmeric, blue and black from indigo, orange from kanchi kum kum power, red from natural alizarin and kum kum power, green from indigo and turmeric, light brown from katha, dark brown from ratanjyot. Vegitable dyes has high permanence and durability and ensure that the toys and dolls are safe for the use of children.
The real charm of channapatna is that the craft is not practiced in large-scale industries and factories,but within the confines of small homes.In reality, the entire toy making industry is a small scale industry. Some are so small that the work is done right outside the homes of these skilled artisans. But the majority of them shop are where four to six people can work together. This aspect has certainly made a mark on the international circle.
India is one of the most versatile and diverse countries in the world. It is said that the culture and food changes at every few miles in INDIA. Every region is unique in terms of art, craft, traditions and language. Among thousands of traditional styles in India, Kondapalli toys are distinct and special. They are not just decorative items that can be placed in the drawing room or the wall cabinet. They are the true reflection of the culture and tradition of Andhra Pradesh. It is an essence of excellent crafting skill and imagination. It is a small village near Vijaywada, the proposed capital of divided Andhra Pradesh.
The toys bear a history of more than 400 years and it is believed that a group of craftsmen migrated from Rajasthan to Andhra Pradesh was the originators of this fantastic art. It is said that the ancestors of these sculptures carved beautiful images of Garuda, Lion, Nandi and other vahanas (vehicles) of gods and goddesses in the ancient temples of Andhra Pradesh. The tradition has been transferred from generations in the people of the “toy colony” of Kondapalli where almost everyone is engaged in preserving this magnificent art.Puniki wood is used for carving beautiful images. It is a white colored wood grows in the local region, and it is grown for making toys. The toys are stuffed with tamarind seed paste and sawdust to make them stable. Vegetable colors are used to paint the toys for the international market. Local people prefer oil paint or enamel. These toys depict farmer couples, decorated elephants, and palanquin bearers.
The raw material required for making these artifacts are- wood, chisel saw dust, muslin cloth, tamarind seed power, deer horn spade, water & vegetable dyes / paints. The wood they used is very light weighted.
The wood that they use are from the tree called “Tella Poniki’ and this grows in the forests nearby. The wood is heated / Sun dried and on heating / drying the weight of the wood reduces to 1/3rd of the original weight. Initially the karigars used Vegetable dyes for coloring and then migrated to synthetic paints and now they make in both the flavors. Vegetable dye based artifacts are bit costlier than the paint ones. The only dis-advantage of vegetable dyes are that when exposed to air conditioning for a longer duration they tend to absorb the moisture and become sticky. To avoid this the karigars apply an coat of sheenlac polish which gives a gloss finish but takes away the a bit of natural beauty of the natural look of the vegetable dyes.