Channapatna toys are the wooden toys that get their name from the town of Channapatna (Gombegala ooru) in the Ramanagar district in the state of Karnataka, India.
The journey of Channapatna to become the “Toy Town of Karnataka” is believed to have begun 200 years ago. Tipu Sultan and the next ruler of Mysuru, Hyder Ali have been said to be gifted the lacquered wooden toys from Persia in 18 century. Hyder Ali was so impressed by this art that he bought the Persian artists to train the local artist here.
Now Channapatna is the home to over 5000 artisans. Coming September Karnataka’s traditional toys will be displayed in the London Design fair 2017. The Channapatna toys own a GI certificate, which was granted by the Geographical Indication Registry in the year 2006.
These toys are eco-friendly, as the materials used to make them are all natural. The primary frame of the toys is made by cutting soft ivory wood or Hale Mara in a definite shape.
This primary frame is then veneered by lacquer which is prepared using vegetable dyes. Along with the toys and dolls, many homes decore and usable products are being made.
But this lacquering art of Channapatna toys is facing down stream since 1990 due to the cheaper and low-quality alternatives present in the market. Due to the less product demand, many craftsmen have changed their profession or migrated to the cities for a better livelihood.
Efforts are being made by individual artisans Governments and many NGOs to resurrect this beautiful art of Channapatna while keeping the well-being of artisans in mind. Promotion and awareness of these toys should be created.