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Photo Story- The Bright and Cheery Toys of Kondapalli

Bright and cheery toys of Kondapalli

I love the bright and cheery toys of Kondapalli and I recently guided my friend to this village to help her pick some travel mementos. The abundance of colors, the variety of smug miniature figurines and the satisfaction of being able to buy them directly from the artisans immediately added a zing to my otherwise monotonous routine. It felt good to see the local craftsmen survive the worst times and revive their work with greater passion. It was pure joy to buy some products and bring them home. Later, I also did an artwork around the Kondapalli toy artisans which was shared by Incredible India. The state of Andhra Pradesh is full of stories and it is extremely gratifying to share yet another local story of Vijayawada and add this one to the list of backyard tourism tales.

Where is Kondapalli’s Bommala Colony (Toy Colony of Kondapalli)? It is located in Kondapalli, a town in Krishna district, very close to my current abode. Personally, it is one of my favorite things to do in the outskirts of the city of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. It is here where the toymakers live, do their craft and sell their stuff. The place has also won ‘Geographical Indication aka GI tag’ for its age-old wooden craft. The intricacy of these miniature figurines is amazing. And if you have been there, you would know that is something so charming and joyous about these beautifully chiselled and vibrantly painted wooden toys, that one can never get enough of the toys galore. The toy makers make these figurines/dolls with lots of zest and passion and its evident in the colors, gesture and activities that are showcased. I totally love these dramatic workshops and am often tempted to buy more than I need.

Where is Kondapalli village?
Kondapalli toys are bright and cheery!

The year 2020 has been unkind to humanity in many ways. A lot of people have been affected, especially those who are sole breadwinners of their family, who have to work everyday to make the ends meet, who sell their craft to earn money. Indian artisans were also worst affected during this pandemic situation. Their products have remained stocked and people are not really spending in the times when economy is falling. I am writing this to acquaint you with the bright and cheery Kondapalli toys, remind people of this local gem of Indian handicraft and support the artisan’s livelihood in these tough times.

Kondapalli toys are beautiful wooden toys.
Bommalu colony!
Kondapalli artisans
Meet the the toymakers of Kondapalli.

Below are ten things that I would like to tell you about KONDAPALLI TOYS!!

  1. It is an ancient toy-making tradition.

2. For 400 years, these artisans have thrived in the Kondapalli village in Andhra Pradesh.

3. The ancestors of these artisans, had migrated from Rajasthan and they chose to settle in this region in the 16th century

4. These toys use herbal ingredients and colors instead of chemical paints. No modern machineries are used to make these toys and enhance the efficient of the toymakers.

5. The shine and durability of these toys is amazing. The artists do everything by themselves – carving, assembling, painting, fixing and more.

These toys are themed around mythology, rural life and animals,
I love the fact that these toys are theme around mythology, rural life and animals!
Where can you find wooden toys?
These Kondapalli Toys are not only bright and cheery but dramatic as well.

6. Tella Poniki is a soft wood found in the Kondapalli Forest reserves which make these toys different from others. It is a rare tree found only around Vijayawada and the composition of the wood is such that chiselling and carving easy and viable. It is ideal for carving into various shapes and sizes.

7. These highly treasured, brightly coloured Kondapalli toys are hard to ignore. The contemporary designs are absolutely eye-catching. The men and women, in fact the whole family divides their work to make these toys.

8. These toys are progeny of delicate craft and are themed around mythology, rural life, local professions, festivals, animals and more. Some of the toys depicting bullock carts, local chores, the village life are my favorite. In the olden days, they were patronized by the Reddy rulers.

9. The disappearing forests of Tella Poniki is posing a problem and the government has already working on an idea of ‘Wood bank’. The government authorities have decided to ensure extra plantation to meet the impending crisis by allocating a certain fixed land for these trees.

10. These toys are not only given as souvenirs to ministers and foreign dignitaries but they play a significant role in Telugu culture. They are immensely popular during local festivals and occasions, especially Sakranti and Navratri puja.

Kondapalli toys showing local life
Kondapalli toys are inspired by locals and their life!

Whenever, you are around Kondapalli, don’t forget to buy some of these toys, from the craftsmen directly. To make their living, they pin their hopes on us. Its time we take more pride in our hand-crafted stuff and the artisans who make it.

Andhra Pradesh is a gorgeous state, do look out for more here.

Also be ‘Vocal for Local’

12 thoughts on “Photo Story- The Bright and Cheery Toys of Kondapalli

  1. Thanks Manjulika for making me aware of this beautiful village and its art. I wish to have some of these cheerful toys of Kondapalli in my travel collection. It is nice to know that they use herbal and no chemical paints. Also, thanks for telling us about Telli Poniki, something very new to me.

  2. It is great that you know the place to buy the colourful toys of Kondapalli right from the artisans. I was fascinated with the variety of subject matter for the painting. And interested to read that there are no chemical paints used to create such vibrant colours. A great gift for everyone!

  3. It was really interesting to read through your article. I did not know that Kondapalli toys had herbal ingredients and that they used ssoom souvenirs for ministers m.m. Thank you for sharing, it’s always fun to read well – written posts and learn something new.

  4. Wow, I previously did not know that this style of toy-making existed, but after reading your blog I would love to visit and support these artists! I love the positivity and nature that these toys are build around; natural wood & colors, great stories & incredible artists.

  5. I absolutely adore the colorful toys and how you’ve captured their essence in your art, your photos, and your storytelling. It was great to see the aritsts at work as well and know who is behind these cheerful creations. I loved learning about the toys as well, especially how long the artists have been at it and the unique nature of the local wood for use with the toys.

  6. Wow such fascinating creations. The best part that I love about Indian toys are that they have culture written all over them. And what incredible range that we possess. Post such as yours showcase them to the world that perhaps has no exposure.The color combinations used especially in the Kondapalli toys are so bright and cheerful.

  7. I’m personally a big fan of both Kondapalli & Chennapatna toys. I would really love to visit both the villages where they are being made and interact with the artisans as well. For now, I’m super happy to have this virtual tour through your blog. We have one of an old man selling vegetables and of the Ramayana story of Gugan, the boatsman. I need to do some shopping to get some rough-use ones for my daughter to play with.

  8. I love the drawing!!! Did you make this?! I really like how you illustrate your blogs. I’ve been following you for a while now and I feel like your blogs are so authentic and are culturally rich. I would like to see how the craftsmen actually make it. I’d definitely buy one if I am to visit their workspace. It will be surely fun to watch and experience!

  9. Wow! These Kondapalli toys are really nice! It is so sad to know that they are badly affected by the pandemic. How I wish we can continue to support them. Thank you for sharing this.

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