Toys of India

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India has a glorious tradition in toys. The excavations from Harappa and Mohenjodaro have thrown up a magnificent profusion of clay toys. A large variety of materials are used for the manufacture of toys and dolls. Red wood, cow dung, papier-mache, paper and clay are some of them.  Clay toys are made in almost all the states in folk style. Some are closely connected with seasonal religious festivals. Almost every region of India is renowned for its distinctive tradition of toys.

One of the oldest and most popular media for toys has been that of painted and lacquered wood. In Bihar, the entire story of Shyama Chak festival is related through clay images. Specially carved red wood toys, called Tirupati dolls, are made at the pilgrimage centre of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.  Another captivating craft is the leather puppets of Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, these are about five feet high, translucent and dramatically painted in vegetable dyes. Pith or Indian cork has been used in Assam to make toys and dolls since centuries. These toys are painted to give them a bright look. All kinds of traditional toys carry a deep stamp of the true Indian characteristics. The rattle and its variant dugg duggi is the most common of rural toys along with the wooden cart, lakdi ki katti.The Rajasthani stuffed toys are made from old clothes and fabric.

Although most of the toys are made to amuse children, some of them are used as crafts. The toys of  Kondapalli (Krishna district) and Ettikoppaka (Vishakapatnam district) in Andhra Pradesh and the lacquered wooden toys of Chennapatna, Mysore are the best specimens. The Kondapalli toys are made from soft wood called ponki, which is treated with boiled tamarind juice and lime paste. The most famous of the Kondapalli toys is the Ambari elephant. Nirmal, Tirupati and Tiruchanur are other important toy making centres in Andhra Pradesh.

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