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Who is not fond of toys? As a kid we all had a special love for toys. Even today when we see toys around us the childhood memories gushes into our heart and mind making us feel happy. But what if we come to know that there is a town of toys?? Yes, a town of toys!!! Channapatna in the rural district of Bangalore is known for its exquisite art of making wooden toys. These toys are known as the Channapatna toys. Channapatna is known as Gombegala Ooru (toy-town) of Karnataka.
The traditional art of toy making in Channapatna started around 200 years ago. Tipu Sultan on his visit to Persia was gifted lacquered wood toy made by the Persian artisans. He was so impressed by these toys that he decided to bring this art of making wooden toys to India. After coming back to India, Tipu Sultan of Mysore had invited Persian artisans to teach this beautiful art of toy making to the Indian locals. It was since then Channapatna is home to the art of toy making. The craftsmen follow the same traditional methods till date for crafting these amazing toys.
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Channapatna toys are made using wood and vegetable dyes which ensure that these toys are safe for children. The process of making Channapatna is tedious one. The craftsmen first procure the wood, seasoned and then cut it into desired shapes. One the shapes are ready they are carefully pruned and carved. After carving these toys they are hand-painted using vegetable colours and polished, the polished toys have an attractive shine that brings out the look of the bright colours used.
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Craftsmen with their amazing skills make toys from wood. These toys are not manufactured in big industries. But Channapatna has small scale industry where craftsmen make attractive and traditional toys. Some industries are so small that the work is done right outside the homes of these craftsmen. But, the majority of them are shop where four to six people can work together. This craft of making wooden toys is an ancient family tradition that has survived many generations.
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It was a decade back that the entire industry suffered a huge loss because of high demand and competition from the Chinese toy market. It was the time that these toy designers had to shut the shop and go elsewhere in search of work for earning bread. But, when the world found that these plastic toys were toxic and not safe for children, the demand for these wooden toys raised again as they are made from wood and natural colours which is totally safe for the kids. Presently, these Channapatna toys are highly demanded worldwide and have a major market place in countries like Europe and United States.
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Channapatna toys give us a reason to be proud of!!! It is not just an art of crafting toys but on the first cultural tableau at the 66th Republic day parade at Rajpath was from the state of the Karnataka and the main theme was Channapatna toys. In addition, the Karnataka government and the external affairs ministry even gifted a bagful of Channapatna toys to President Obama, the chief guest at the event. It was such a moment of pride, not only for the craftsmen but the whole of India. This traditional craft is also certified as GI (geographical Indication) under World Trade Organisation to protect the authenticity of Channapatna toys.
(Image Courtesy: The Time of India Photogallery)