Monday, August 17, 2015

Channapatna: Toy Town Of India

Last few months have just flown by in flurry of activities, I wanted to blog and talk to my readers but I couldn't. There were various activities that kept me occupied and engaged. All this while I received so many mails and messages from my dear readers, friends, not to mention clients and founders of some amazing startups. 

One such mail from founder of a wonderful startup brought back so many childhood memories and I was hit hard by nostalgia. My mind was totally taken up with reminiscence. The beautiful pictures of glossy and vibrant wooden toys attached with the mail reminded me of my grandfather who would take all his grand children to the fair and he would buy us shiny wooden toys in vivid colours. I still remember the dancing doll I had chosen. I didn't know the origin and history of those toys at that time but today I do. I know I had played with the most beautiful, lustrous, charming and eco-friendly Channapatna toys

Channapatna Wooden Toys

If you don't know about Channapatna then you are at right place as today I'll be talking about this famous toy town of India. Channapatna is a small city near Bangaluru in Karnataka. Lustrous lacquered wooden toys are indigenous to Channapatna. There is no other city in India that produces such kind of wooden toys and lacquer wares and credit goes to Tipu Sultan, a ruler of the 'kingdom of Mysore' in 1782 who invited artisans and craftsman from Persia to get local people trained in making wooden toys and fostered the artistic talent. Hence the genesis of this wooden toy industry began around two centuries ago.

Channapatna Wooden Coasters
Initially the ivory wood was used in making the wooden toys but over time artisans started using cedar, rubber, teak & sandal wood too. Desired shape is given to wood on 'Lathe', a machine that rotates the wood on its axis and wood can be cut, sand, drill and is given perfect symmetrical shape. Dried cactus leaves are then used to sand the shaped wood. Further process involves applying natural colours which are vegetable dyes, applying wax for sheen and luster and then detailing is done using permanent marker. Earlier the products were toys only but then artisans diversified and started making range of products like home decor products, kitchen and utility products. Decades ago due to lack of marketing Channapatna toy industry started diminishing. But now this wooden toy manufacturing industry is being revived again and it has started flourishing. I am so delighted to share the fact that now kids these days can also play with these beauties that are eco friendly and safe for them unlike harmful plastic toys that are being used increasingly.

Channapatna Lacquered wooden toys
In my next post I'll be showcasing an online store that is not only supporting artisans of Channapatna, reviving this age old craft of manufacturing wooden toys and lacquer ware that is on the verge of dying out but also creating well designed, safe and eco- friendly toys for kids.
So stay tuned to know more about this online store. Here I would like my readers to take pledge and say NO to plastic, stop using plastic toys and food containers, they are harmful for all of us. Instead use Channapatna wooden toys and that way you are not only helping artisans make their living but also bringing real joy in your kids life by giving them these timeless and most importantly safe toys.
Stay Tuned!!

P.S. All images are clicked by Disha and subject to copyright.


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