Channapatna Toys of Karnataka
- October 14, 2021
By Shivam Pathania
The small city of Channapatna is located at about a distance of 60 km from the city of Bengaluru. Channapatna, is known as ‘Gombegalauru’, which means toy town in Kannada. It is rightly so titled by the state of Karnataka as it is well known for its unique wooden lacquered toys around the globe. The Channapatna wooden toys trace their origin from the era of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore kingdom around 200 years ago. The ruler was immensely impressed with the craftsmanship of the Persian toymakers and invited the talented craftsmen to his kingdom to train the local artisans. The wooden handicraft is certified as a geographical indication (GI), by the World Trade Organization.
The toys are well known for their unique and colourful aesthetic. The craft utilises a lot of round shapes and forms that are symmetrical in nature. The traditional craft was originally carved out of Ivory wood locally called ‘Aale mara’ but over the years, craftsmen have substituted the raw material with other types of hardwood like rubberwood, sycamore, silver wood, red cedar, etc. After the procurement of the wood, it is usually seasoned for about two to three months. Once it is ready, it is sent for carving. The carving takes place on the lathe machine, which is used for creating objects that are symmetrical around an axis. The wood pieces are shaped in cylindrical forms before they are mounted on the machine. Then the machine is used to make them into spheres, hemispheres, cones and other round forms. The rotating wooden cylinder is given different shapes and forms using chisels and files. Once the required shape is achieved, it is rubbed with sandpaper for an even surface. While still rotating on the machine, the wooden toy is coloured using vegetable dyed lacquer sticks and is polished in the end using a palm leaf. The eye-catching colours of the toys are made from all-natural materials. The yellow dye is obtained from turmeric, blue dye from indigo powder, red and orange dyes from Kumkum, and brown dye from Katha or extracts from the acacia tree.