Toys From Andhra Pradesh: Etikoppaka



Toys From Andhra Pradesh: EtikoppakaThe most bewitching part of Indian handicrafts lies in its children world, the toys and dolls. Each time you view them, they stir you with a newness that makes them ageless.

There was an ancient tradition, and it probably still lingers in remote areas, which believes there is no dividing line between art and craft, for both possess individuality, artistic merit and deserve respect. This seems appropriate to toys and dolls, for it is both an art and a craft.

The toys serve more than the purpose of entertaining children. Through them, the children are initiated into the inner mysteries, traditions, faiths and mores that will serve as a guide to their adult life. The images are interchangeable: for images of deities, spirits of various phases of nature, all ultimately pass to the children's world as toys.

Toys In Dussehra Celebrations

One of the things that has given special significance to toys and dolls in the life of the people of South India is their role in the ten days of Dussehra celebrations. On this occasion, toys and dolls are arranged in steps and the festival is called kollu. There is thus constant demand for the dolls, not only from children but from adults too.


Toys in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is very rich in its range and variety of toys. The best known and with the widest range are the toys made in the village of Kondapalli by a community called Aryakshatriyas. Their toys are made of a kind of lightwood, which is locally known as punki.

Each wooden piece cut to make a specific item is subjected to a process of slow heating to draw out all the moisture. The different parts of the image are carved separately. They are then joined together. Crushed tamarind seeds are used as an adhesive. After this adhesive dries, another adhesive called lime glue is applied.

Both water and oil colors are used to paint the toy or figurine. Traditionally the colors were very bright. Nowadays muted colors are used. Painting is a delicate process done with soft and thin paintbrushes made of goat's hair.

Different Categories

The toys can roughly be categorized as those representing scenes from actual life, those representing deities and others that capture animal figures. In the first series, they make scenes that may contain more than one figure. For example, it is common to find a simple single hut with a woman cooking, man climbing a palm tree, a woman milking a cow or pounding grain or spinning a wheel or youngsters minding sheep. These are some of the other activities captured in wood.

Sometimes animal figures can be seen in household scenes too. Bright animal figures are made in Kondapalli and form the second series of toys.

The third series usually relate mythological stories. The very popular ones are the ten dolls, which represent the dasavatar or the ten incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Representations of Shiva and all the lesser gods of the Hindu pantheon are common.

In the deity series, the well known, but an entirely different style of toys is known as Tirupathi dolls. Made within a limited range, they consist largely of reproductions of the religious figures in the classical style as seen in sculptures in temples. The wood used is red in color, which gives the toy a distinction.

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