Five Traditional Toys Of India And How They Are Made

Traditional toys pose a significant cultural asset and tell the stories of ancient lives, traditions, and beliefs.

If we look at the indigenous toys from every region of India, we realize that they are not just made out of eco-friendly materials like palm leaf, clay, wood, and cloth among others, but are also aesthetically pleasing. Here is a list of five traditional Indian toys that still echo the eras gone by but have not ceased to charm the modern world.

Channapatna Toys, Karnataka

The origin of Channapatna toys can be traced back to the reign of Tipu Sultan, and are produced in the town of Channapatna in Karnataka. For making these dolls, ivory wood was primarily used and they not only showcase pretty artistry but are also affordable and very durable. Over the years the crafting has evolved and now materials like teak, pine, and sycamore are also used. The wood of suitable quality is procured and seasoned to mitigate the moisture content and then cut and carved into desired sizes and shapes. After this, vegetable dyes are used for coloring and then polished to ensure finesse.

Thanjavur Dolls, Tamil Nadu

The iconic Thanjavur doll hails from the district of Thanjavur in Chennai. The center of gravity of the doll is fixated at its bottom-most point, such that a continuous movement of oscillation is created. Thanjavur dolls are very familiar to bobbleheads and roly-poly dolls. The craft of the doll is an ancient skill, and the heritage doll is handcrafted with terracotta, clay, wax, and marble. The doll figurines include Kathakali and Bharatnatyam dancers and a couple of king and queen.

Natungram Dolls, West Bengal

Natungram is a quaint village in the Burdwan district of West Bengal. Natungram dolls are chiseled out of seasoned wood and painted intricately using bright colors. The dolls have rustic artistry that is unabashed and original due to their unpolished look. The rise of the Bhakti Movement in Bengal during the 15th and 16th centuries gave birth to the creation of Natungram dolls in the form of the iconic pair of Gour-Nitai that represent Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his favorite disciple, Nitai. The dolls are painted in three colors only – green, red, and yellow.

Kondapalli Toys, Andhra Pradesh

Kondapalli is a village in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh with a 400-year-old tradition of toy-making. Kondapalli toys are made of softwood from the TellaPoniki tree, and themes of the toys are derived from Indian epics and mythology and also depict the rural life. The Dasavatharam and the Ambari elephants are significantly prominent.

Dolls of Vilachery, Tamil Nadu

In the Vilachery village of Tamil Nadu, some 200 families of artisans residing in the village get engaged in the making of paper-mâché and clay dolls during ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ and ‘Navratri’. The skilled craftsmen mold the dolls as characters from folk tales, epics, gods, and goddesses. The dolls are then sun-dried and painted with two coats of bright colors.

So, which traditional toy do you think is the most impressive?

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