Originating from the vibrant and bustling suburban town of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, Kondapalli toys bear the name of their birthplace. Delving deeper into the town, the spirited Bommala Colony, meaning "Toys" in Telugu, is where the art of crafting these toys thrives. Surviving through the countless changes in trends and various invasions, these toys have stood the test of time for over 400 years. Despite their enduring presence, it is still remarkable to see Kondapalli toys being made with such skill and precision even today. But, in 2007, these cherished toys faced an uncertain future. However, a ray of hope emerged when they were granted the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag, officially recognizing their cultural significance and preserving their legacy for generations to come.
With intricate details and rich history, Kondapalli toys may appear deceptively simple at first glance. These remarkable toys are crafted from Tella Poniki, a locally sourced softwood found in the nearby hills. Skilled artisans, who have dedicated their lives to mastering this craft, meticulously sculpt the wood into exquisite forms. Belonging to the esteemed community of Arya Kshatriyas, these artisans are renowned for their expertise in toy-making and wood-sculpting. The legend holds that their ancestry can be traced back to sage Mukta Rishi, who was bestowed with the talent for creating art and toys by none other than Lord Shiva himself. Adding to the diversity of the community, some of the artisans come from Jaipur and Koraput, proudly claiming their heritage to Mukta Rishi and receiving patronage from the former King of Kondapalli fort.
These exquisite toys have earned their own special place in the world of handicrafts. The wood is carefully heated to eliminate moisture before each part of the figure is intricately carved. Finally, the pieces are expertly joined together using a special adhesive made from crushed tamarind seeds.
The artisans of Kondapalli skillfully create their unique toys and figurines using both water and oil colours. Delicate paintbrushes, crafted from goat hair, are used to meticulously paint the intricate details. Scenes from daily life, animals, rural environments, deities, and epic characters all come to life in these charming pieces. The collection boasts renowned items such as soldiers, pen stands, Dasavatar sets, and Ambari elephants. Made with white Poniki and adorned with natural vegetable dyes, these small wonders are a treasure for any collector. While export quality toys are painted with vibrant vegetable dyes, those sold within India are coloured with oil paints. Enamel paints are reserved for special occasions, making each toy a truly special and unique creation.
Nowadays, Kondapalli toys are evolving to keep up with modern tastes, offering a fresh array of designs alongside beloved classics like Dasavataram and dancing dolls. Tragically, the younger generation seems uninterested in this centuries-old art of toy-making. Yet, as long as true enthusiasts reignite the demand, there is hope for a brighter future for this traditional craft. In order to stay relevant and stay afloat financially, the makers have made some changes, using synthetic instead of natural dyes for their vibrant, marketable colors. They have even expanded their production to include Thanjavur dancing dolls and Ettukopakka toys, all in an effort to boost profits and sustain their livelihood.
Praised for its effortless versatility, this handcrafted marvel is a popular addition to modern household decor. With its charming depictions of children on computers, vegetable vendors, newlyweds, and expectant mothers celebrating the traditional Telugu ceremony known as 'Seemantham', Kondapalli toys have made a special place for themselves on the shelves of new-age households. Their growing popularity and appeal have made them a highly coveted gift, especially at weddings in the southern regions of India.
So, before getting lost in the overwhelming array of gifting choices, turn to Kondapalli toys as your ultimate solution.
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