HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE

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HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE

GUEST POST BY HARJEET KAUR

On our little trip to a quaint village named Kondapalli, which is just about 40 kms away from Vijayawada, my hometown, I found these beautiful toys which made me nostalgic. I thought of the modern toys we buy for our kids these days and remembered the amount we would throw away every other month because they were either broken, cracked or dusty in a corner.

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE
Various items we bought

REASONS TO PURCHASE THESE HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS

* Wood, unlike plastic, is biodegradable.
* These items are handmade, organic and traditional and the art is worth preserving.
* Instead of buying machine-made flimsy stuff, I think we could help boost sales, thereby benefitting the artisans.
* There are little planters, flower vases and instruments, too, which can be kept as display items at your place of work.
* It is a complete mood booster to have these colourful handmade artefacts around your house.

WHAT DOES ‘KONDA’ MEAN?

When we set out for the hamlet on the hill (konda), armed with sun hats, parasols and refreshing drinks, the sun was harsh. We used GPS, made inquiries and finally reached the quiet but colourful colony.

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE
Pin it to spread the art!

KONDAPALLI VILLAGE

This village is internationally famous for its handmade toys or Kondapalli Toys. Here, all the crafting takes place in Bommala Colony which means Toys Colony. The toys made here are distinctive due to the material, method and themes used for the same. The toys are very colourful and attractive to the eyes.

Despite all the modernization, Kondapalli still remains a cottage industry with a few families, in and around the village, carrying on this tradition. I still remember the time when my mom had bought me some lovely Kondapalli toys when I was a kid. They came packed in boxes made of palm leaves. I would also see Kondapalli dolls (Bommala Koluvu) displayed at my neighbour’s place during Sankranti/Navrathri.

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE
The Process of making Kondapalli toys

THE PROCESS OF MAKING KONDAPALLI TOYS

I found the whole process of doll making fascinating and had a newfound appreciation for this dying art. The karigars (artisans), who create the toys, are referred to as Aryakhastriyas and are said to have migrated from Rajasthan in the 16th century. They claim their origin to Muktharishi, a sage endowed, by Lord Shiva, with skills in arts and crafts. Kondapalli toy making is a 400-year-old art and the process of making these dolls is very intriguing. We visited some of the workshops there and Srinivas, one of the artisans and owner of the place, explained how the wood is first carved out and then the edges are given a smooth finish. He showed us his primitive but sharp curved tool with which he did the chipping. The latter step involves colouring with enamel paint, watercolours or vegetable dyes for export.

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE

The artisans at one time produced mythological figures of animals, birds, bullock carts laden with sacks, rural life, etc. The most prominent were the Dasavataram and the dancing dolls, that shake their heads and waist in tandem when prodded. There was this cute and funny old couple doll whose heads were bobbing continuously. The expressions and body shape made it impossible for our smiles to fade away.

THE MATERIALS USED IN MAKING KONDAPALLI TOYS

Tella Poniki Wood

The material used, for making these artefacts, is softwood, known as Tella Poniki, available in the nearby forests. It was heartening to see the patriarch himself working on the dolls while both his sons assisted him. The Tella Poniki timber was being cut by a machine into suitable blocks. Every part of the body of a doll is broken up into pieces and then each part is inserted into the other, like legs, head and arms. To smoothen, each part is chiselled and filed. They are then glued together. After that, a tamarind and sawdust paste is used to cover the cracks. The rough parts are again smoothened out before the toys are allowed to dry. This is followed by the application of vegetable dyes or paints.

Vegetable Dyes

Initially, the karigars used only vegetable dyes for colouring, but, then moved to synthetic paints to speed up their work and lower the prices. Vegetable dye-based artefacts are in high demand in the international markets, according to Satyanarayana, owner of another manufacturing unit. The only drawbacks of using vegetable dyes these days is that the artefacts get costlier as they need to be very carefully handled. Even a tiny drop of water can damage the piece. In short, only those with patience can handle such intricate work. To add to the longevity of the vegetable dyes the karigars apply a coat of lacquer polish which gives the toys a longer shelf life as well as a glossy finish. The result is these colourful, flawless toys in different shapes and sizes.

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE
Dasavataralu

Now-a-days, there is a bit of innovation in the form of new themes and products being introduced. “There are angry birds, Hanuman and Krishna statues and a few Rajasthani dolls which are brought raw and then painted in the village”, said Satyanarayana. After enjoying this little village, on our way back home, we set out on our journey with a little booty of handmade Kondapalli toys packed nicely in palm-leaf baskets. Nostalgia!

What are your thoughts about these toys? Do they make you feel nostalgic, too?

HANDMADE KONDAPALLI TOYS & WHY WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR USE
Harjeet Kaur

About the Author

Harjeet is a freelance content writer and a versatile blogger. She is an enthused, traveller and loves walking the roads less travelled. She loves cooking for family and friends. Her secret ingredient, ‘love’, is abundantly used while she prepares her delicacies. She shares her travel and food tales on her blog. Other topics that she writes about are lifestyle, beauty, fitness and mental health. Spreading smiles is what she does and sprinkles love along the way.

Images from the internet.

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21 Comments

  1. Outset Books says:

    I remember bying one of these toys long back. But never knew the name or relevance. Thanks to both of you for the post.

  2. Shilpa Garg says:

    OMG! This post has brought back so many memories. We used to have wooden toys like these but wasnt aware that they are called Kondapalli Toys. Thanks for some smiles and memories!

  3. Sakshi Varma says:

    Lovely colorful toys! We have bought some from places like dilli haat etc. It is good to see that they are trying to innovate because the kids exposure is very different today and we need toys that catch their attention.

  4. MeenalSonal says:

    I am familiar with the Kondapalli toys and the effort that goes in making them. We all should promote the toys made by natural products, I personally purchased the thirsty crow and a baby toy from the shop.

  5. Swati Mathur says:

    I have heard a lot about KONDAPALLI TOYS and so glad to see such an informative post. I stay in Bangalore and similar wooden today’s are also made in channapatna. For wooden toys I have special place in my heart.

  6. Though KONDAPALLI TOYS term is new to me but wodden toys are not new. I had plenty of beautiful memories to buying these type of toys from local fair during childhood. indeed this post has made me nostalgic and I re called golden childhood days.

  7. Harjeet Kaur says:

    Thanks for publishing my post, Cindy. It looks great on your page with your special touch.

  8. Alpana Deo says:

    Wooden toys.. aha. I love wooden toys. They have their own charm. Loved the bullock cart. I still have a few of my old wooden toys. They always get an upper hand over any plastic toys.

  9. Yes, its nostalgic. We had few kondapalli bommallu at home.

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