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Town of toys

Year 2016 is passing by on fast forward mode.
I’m occupied in multiple projects at this time and I apologize for the gap of 3 months in writing a new post.

I had been travelling, exploring new crafts and nature.

In August, I got the chance to travel down to Coorg (Karnataka).
It was the perfect monsoon season with flowers blooming everywhere.


But, this post is not about my travel diary but a famous craft from Karnataka.

Channapatna is a city, situated about 60 kms from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore state highway.
I read about this city in several books but didn’t know that we will cross the same on our ride to Coorg.
I picked up some beautiful handmade toys for myself and friends, but before that, let me tell you about this art of wooden toys from Channapatna.


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 to sacrifice his life for channapatna toys. He adopted Japanese technology for toys making and help the local artisans improve their art.


For nearly two centuries, ivory-wood was the main wood used in the making of these toys, though rosewood and sandalwood were also occasionally used.

As of Oct 2006, more than 6,000 people in Channapatna, working in 254 home manufacturing units and 50 small factories, were engaged in the making of these toys.
The Karnataka Handicrafts Development Corporation (KHDC) provides assistance with marketing efforts.
Most oldest and popular manufacturing unit Bharath Art and crafts help develop innovative products.

Channapatna craftsmen are referred to as acharya and belong to the community of Chitragars.
Traditionally they made wooden masks, human and animal figures, and painted the temples around Channapatna.

From the ancient craft of turning wood by hand, the artisans progressed to working on a simple hand lathe.
The advent of power lathes enabled greater output combined with economy in the cost of production and human labour.
For colouring the wooden object with lac, a piece of solid lac is held against the surface of the finished product, while the lathe is turned at high speed. Due to the heat generated by friction, a coating of the melted lac covers the outer surface of the object.
Screw pine leaf is used as the material for buffing.


The town’s lacquering process is renowned for its mix of vegetable dyes and food-grade pigments, with natural shellac residue. The natural dyes include turmeric for yellow, indigo powder for blue, vermillion or kumkum powder for orange and red, and katha (acacia tree extract) for brown.


The Karnataka Government also constructed a Lacquerware Craft Complex, which has a manufacturing centre with about 30 turning lathe machines, at Channapatna.
Prototype designs to suit modern tastes are provided by master craftsmen from the Design Centre of the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, Bangalore.
Financial assistance has been provided by the Vishwa scheme. The Dutch government is also providing aid. Many new companies are also trying to revive interest in these toys.

The toys are protected by the Geographical Indications (GI) tag/ status under the World Trade Organisation. Not many know that one of Channapatna’s biggest customers is Microsoft, which uses the mathematical games and puzzles produced here to educate underprivileged children around the world.

Over the last 4 years, Designers, many new companies and social enterprises have been reviving the Channapatna craft to suit modern tastes.

Mr. Atul Johri, Lucknow based craft designer
Nishi Chauhan , Architect cum Designer from Bangalore

Check out Nishi’s beautiful collections ‘Animal Farm’, Dunk which are also the winner of Red dot design Award.

Last but not the least, here are some at my home now 🙂

Reference: Wiki | Handmade in India |Blon Campus

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