Toys From Andhra Pradesh: Etikoppaka

 

 

Some folk figures are also made. The dancing figures, in particular, are beautifully chiseled and have an air of dignity about them.

Another Toy Making Center

Nirmal, a village in Andhra Pradesh, is yet another toy making center. Story goes that it was here, that ancient craftsmen manufactured a material as glowing and enduring as gold, from herbal extraction! Even now, the predominant color in Nirmal toys is gold.

For small toys, punki wood is used and for the larger ones, teak is used in Nirmal. However, at one time Nirmal too used to make religious figures, but today it concentrates mainly on animal and bird figures.

Birds are generally shown flying and a flock of three to five makes a wall plaque. The less ornamented toys are made without application of color. Glue made of tamarind seeds boiled to the consistency of a paste is mixed with white clay and applied to the surface of the toys. Those decorated lavishly are dominated by the gold color. The peculiarity lies in the way the gold coloring is produced. Juices of two kinds of plants are boiled in linseed oil and

the brilliant gold color is produced. Generally, the base color is black or natural mud.

Color, variety of designs and moods mark the toys for Andhra Pradesh. Today the designs are growing to meet the present day demands. One can have a board of lacquered knots and crosses. A red colored matrix is prepared with coins in different hues, which may be used as the knots or the crosses! Puppeteers have used their skill to make lampshades - the same figures, the same techniques; only they can now adorn the living room. The toy world of Andhra Pradesh is playing with the excitement of being futuristic.

Toy Making in Etikoppaka

Coming into Etikoppaka, a small town in Andhra Pradesh reminds one of childhood days, of vivid, sparkling wooden toys and colorful objects that were the source of endless joy.

This town of Andhra Pradesh has an age-old tradition of toy making. The toys are usually made of wood. The wood is soft and has a fine grain. Women and children pick it up from nearby hills and leave it to dry in the courtyards. The workplace and tools are primitive. It is a wonder that with these primitive tools, objects of such skill originate here.

In 1906, Sri C.V.Padmanabha Raju, a landlord of Etikoppaka, brought colored lac from Chennai. The local villagers made toys using the soft lightwood and colored lac.

Lacquering is done on a lathe, hand or machine operated. For making slender and delicate items, the hand lathe is considered suitable. Dry lac is pressed against the item to be lacquered and then exposed to heat. The wooden base is continually rotated for uniform application. It speaks of the skill of the craftsman as he uses different colors and yet manages to get uniform shine on them.

Etikoppaka toys have become very popular in India and abroad. As the toys are exported also, vegetable dyes are used in coloring instead of lead based dyes. Vegetable dyes are brought from Madhya Pradesh in powdered form. A thick decoction of color is mixed with hot lac and sticks are made similar to those with synthetic dyes.

In making new designs, Etikoppaka artisans are helped by the School of Fine Arts, Andhra University, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and M.S.University, Baroda besides individual designers.


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