Channapatna Toys are a particular form of wooden toys (and dolls) that are manufactured in the town of Channapatna in the Bengaluru Rural District of Karnataka State.
This traditional craft is protected as a Geographical Indication (GI) under the World Trade Organisation administered by the Government of Karnataka. As a result of the popularity of these toys, Channapatna is known as GOMBEGALA OORU ( toy-town) of Karnataka.
The making of the toys involved lacquering the wood of the WRIGHTIA TINCTORIA tree, colloquially called AALE MARA (ivory-wood). 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. For nearly two centuries, ivory-wood was the main wood used in making these toys, though rosewood and sandalwood were also occasionally used.
The craft has diversified overtime, in addition to the traditional ivory-wood, other woods —– including rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine and teak —– are now used as well. The manufacturing stages include procuring the wood, seasoning and cutting it to the desired shapes, pruning and carving the toys, applying the colours and finally, polishing the finished product. Vegetable dyes are used in the colouring process to ensure that the toys and the dolls are safe for the use by children.
More than 6,000 people in Channapatna working in 254 home manufacturing units and 50 small factories are engaged in the making of these toys. The Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation (KHDC) provides assistance with marketing efforts. With no proper backups and marketing, Channapatna Toy industry faced a financial crunch for more than a decade and was almost on the verge of dying out. However, with the help of KHDC, the craft has been revived and the artisans, involved, are being trained on changing trends in the industry, to help them keep abreast of the current scenario. Prototypes, designed by master craftsmen, are introduced to the local artisans who use them to create well-designed toys and dolls.
The Government of Karnataka has also provided help by constructing a Lacquer Craft Complex, which has a manufacturing centre with 32 turning lathe machines at Channapatna. Financial assistance to the artisans, with help from the Dutch Government and the Karnataka Government’s VISHWA SCHEME has also been provided.
Please also visit http://www.dsource.in/resource/channapatna-toys/master.html for detailed photographs on how these beautiful toys are made!