Treasure in traditional toys

Toy making is a folk tradition in many villages. The recent Lepakshi exhibition at Tarnaka offered an insight into traditional toys. Vibrant and distinct, these toys take us back to remote villages and towns, with most toys taking their names from the place of manufacture.

September 06, 2009 10:46 am | Updated 10:46 am IST

Exciting and eco friendly: Kondapalli toysPhoto: Raju V.

Exciting and eco friendly: Kondapalli toysPhoto: Raju V.

Kondapalli, near Vijayawada, is famous for the ‘bommalu’ or toys. These are made from locally available wood- ‘tella punigi’. “The wood is first carved then the edges are turned for smooth finishing then painted. The paints can be enamel or vegetable dye,” says an artisan at the expo with his toys. Choose from bullock carts, huts and trains. The most famous among Kondapalli toys are the Ambari elephant, Dasavataram, dancing dolls and toddy tappers. The papier mache toys from the region are also popular.

Royal patronage

Wooden and lacquer toys have put Chennapatna on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, on the world map. History has it that the craftsmen received royal patronage from Tipu Sultan. The wood traditionally used is ‘aelley’ or ivory wood. Along with toys there are wooden sharpeners, bikes, dolls, chakki and more. Look out for the abacus and colourful learning aid for children painted with vegetable dyes in this collection. The toys are priced from Rs.15 onwards.

Etikoppaka, translated as “group of houses”, is a small village on the banks of the river Varaha in Visakhapatnam district. The locals draw income mostly from farming. Toy making is a part of their folk tradition. The toys are usually made of wood, which is soft and has a fine grain. The wood used for the purpose is ‘Wrightia tinctoria’, which is abundant in the region and is aesthetically crafted to make small tops and toys for children. Their eye-catching designs, bright colours and earthy appeal make them very attractive.

Wooden wonders made at Etikoppaka reveal some little-known cultural practices of the region and display the creative skills of its makers. And if one is enchanted with these amazing toys and would like to bring them home then you need not travel all the way to Etikoppaka as they are available in Lepakshi and other art emporiums in the city. These are priced between Rs.35 - Rs 1000. It’s good to buy vegetable dye painted toys as they are safe to play with.

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