“Gomebegala Ooru” is a popular name of Channapatna a small town in Karnataka. This traditional craft of Toy making is protected as a geographical indication (GI tag) under the world trade organization, administered by the Govt of Karnataka.
The origin of Channapatna toys dates back to the period when Tipu Sultan was ruling the Mysore region in 18th century. Artisans from Persia were specially invited by Tipu Sultan to train local artists in the processes of making wooden toys. The artisans even today practice traditional methods dating back to two centuries for making these toys.
Setting Channapatna toys apart are its best features: they are ecofriendly, made of wood, they come in vivid nontoxic colors. This makes the product not only attractive but also children friendly. Channapatna toys range from display items such as Dasara dolls, Daruma dolls, toys for different age groups such as rattles, pulling toys, stacking toys, utilitarian items such as coasters, pen stands, whistles, fridge magnets, Bangle stand s etc.
MAKING OF THE CHANNAPATNA TOYS:
Materials and Processes:
The process of making Channapatna toys start with processing raw material. Traditionally ivory wood is used. They come from locally available trees. Wrightia Tinctoria tree commonly known as Aale mara is used. Based on the size of planks the wood is seasoned for at least 3 months. This wood then goes through lacquer ware and is mounted on lathe machine where different type of chisel is used to get desired shapes such as spherical, circular or oval as per the design. After obtaining the desired shape it is then rubbed with sandpaper to smoothen the surface further. The lacquering stick is pressed against the wooden piece while it is still on the lathe. The traditional method of lacquering & uniform spreading of the same with the help of dried palm leaf on the surface brings the shine and shimmer to the products.
CURRENT STATE OF THE CRAFT AND COMMUNITY
The influx of cheap and splashy colorful Chinese toys in the market, led to the downfall of these fascinating toys in the market. Fortunately, with the help of Karnataka Handicraft Development Corporation, the artisans made small prototypes that were sold in the bigger markets gaining back the attention to the small town of Channapatna. The work of NGOs also helped these toy makers earn a decent living from a dying art. These captivating toys undoubtedly add value to life.