The Channapatna town of Ramanagara district, Karnataka is famous for their peculiar wooden toys and dolls. Bavas Miyan is the father of Channapatna Toy, who sacrificed his life for channapatna toys. In Kannada, the place is known as Gombegala nagara which means “town of toys”. Therefore the town secures the name ‘The Toy Land’ of Karnataka. It is a feast for eyes to travel the streets of Channapatna, filled with toys of different shape, size and colours.You can see the unembellished talent of craftsman in each of the toys.
The history dates back to the reign of Tipu Sultan when he invited the artisans from Persia to train the local artisans of Channapatna on the making of wooden toys. Ivory wood, rosewood and sandalwood are the woods used for the manufacture of Channapatna toys. As new materials took authority in the market raw material for Channapatna toys also evolved. This includes rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine and teak.
Channapatna toys are highly renowned for their safety. They are made from soft ivory wood or hale mara and then coated with lacquer which is made from vegetable dyes. These dyes are used in the colouring process to ensure that the toys and dolls are non-toxic and safe for use by children. The best thing about Channapatna toys is that they are made with the personal touch of artisans rather than mass production in factories. The lathe is the main equipment for the manufacture. Nowadays electrical lathes are widely in use.
The main steps in the manufacture includes
1. Procurement and seasoning of hale wood or ivory wood.Seasoning can be 2 to 3 months depending on the size of the wood.
2. The woodcutter cuts the wood as per requirement.
3. Wooden pieces are cut on the lathe according to prescribed sizes.
4. Round disks are cut off from a lathe turned wooden piece.
5. Chips of lac, a natural resin acquired from forests, are bought locally to make the colour with which the wooden pieces are coated.
6. Lac sticks in a variety of hues are kept ready to use to colour the surface of Channapatna wooden toys.
7. Once the wood is turned into its desired shape, the lacquer stick is held against the wooden piece while it is still on the lathe. The lac melts with the heat produced by friction and transfers the colour to the surface of the wood.
8. Dried palm leaf is used to spread lathe uniformly on the surface of the wood.
9. Finally, the artisans use small sharp tools to hand engrave decorative elements onto the surface of lacquered toys.
GROWTH OF CHANNAPATNA TOYS
The Channapatna industry faced a huge financial crisis for a decade. But, 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.