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