Updated: Sep 30, 2020
India’s toy making history goes way back. These traditions can be traced back to the civilizations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, up to 5000 years ago.
Today, wooden toys are manufactured by traditional artisans throughout India and especially in the north, northeast, centre and south, depending on the availability of raw materials in these regions.
One of India’s most famous toys are made in the little city of Channapatna in Karnataka. Artisans in Channapatna are world famous and in fact, even Michelle Obama couldn’t hide her delight over the colourful toys of Channapatna.
This tradition of toy making came into existence at the 18th century when the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore — Tipu Sultan (Tiger of Mysore) invited Persian artisans to his kingdom to teach the art of wooden toy making to local artisans. Initially, the toys were made out of Ivory wood, but nowadays artisans use rosewood, rubber, sycamore, cedar, pine and even teak. The Manufacturing stages include wood procurement, seasoning, shaping the wood, pruning, carving, colouring, and ultimately polishing the finished toy.
One of the most interesting processes in the Channapatna toy making process is the usage of organic vegetable dyes in the colouring process. This is done to ensure that the toys and dolls are safe for use by children.
Sadly, the Channapatna toy industry is under huge threat by Chinese toy manufacturers who commands more than 80% of all toys that are sold in India. These toys are also extremely harmful to children as they contain high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. In our quest to be #VocalforLocal, we are tying up directly with the artisans of Channapatna and helping them cater to a larger set of audience. Do check out their toys here and join us in our fight to preserve this dying art form.