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400-year-old tradition of making Kondapalli toys in Andhra gets a boost

Kondapalli toys are made in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh from soft wood called Tella Poniki which are found in the hills of Kondapally (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@@SoniaGurnani19)

With the aim of keeping traditional skills and art alive, the Central Government has taken proactive steps under the scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries to provide a boost to manufacturing of the renowned Kondapalli toys in Andhra Pradesh. While honing the skills of the toy makers, this scheme will provide a single platform for diverse artisan societies and streamline their training, management of raw materials, production of toys and sales under one umbrella.

For this purpose, 27 societies of 206 artisans of Kondapalli have been merged and now modern techniques will be incorporated in their training while they will be equipped with essential marketing methods. The National Institute of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises is the nodal agency and District Rural Development Agency is the implementing agency for the scheme.

A society named Kondapalli Sfurthi Bommala Panivarla Sangam has been formed for taking forward this scheme and it will serve as an entity responsible for operation and implementing various activities related to it. For conducting the activities of the Sangam, a new building has come up in place of the old one. This new structure houses 16 workshops for creating and finishing of the toys and it will benefit 80 families. There is a spacious workshop dedicated to carving and toy designing while all the essential amenities required for artisans to work have been provided.

Support of organisations like the Tata Trust will be sought to help in international marketing opportunities for Kondapalli toys. With a view to help in reducing the cost of production, the society will be provided a subsidy of 50 per cent to meet the increased cost of buying the white pine trees from faraway places due its scarcity in Kondapalli.

Talking to the media, Kesineni Srinivas Member of Parliament from Vijayawada assured to extend support for constructing the first floor with 32 workshops. He added that the budget for the scheme is Rs.172.50 and that 90 per cent of it will be borne by the Central Government while a sum of Rs.29.50 lakhs has been allocated from his MPLADS fund for the scheme.

Kondapalli Toys

Made of soft wood in Kondapalli located in Andhra’s Krishna district, the art of crafting these toys dates back to 400 years old tradition. The artisans who make them are called as Aryakhastriyas and they are mentioned in the Brahmanda Purana. Said to have migrated from Rajasthan in the 16th Century to Kondappali, these artisans claim their origin to Muktharishi, a sage endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva.

The toys are made from Tella Poniki which is a soft wood and each part is carved out separately. Using a paste of tamarind seed powder and sawdust, the pieces are joined together and then details are added. For finishing the colouring is done either with oil and water-colours or vegetable dyes and enamel paints. The toys depict mythological figures, birds, animals, bullock carts, rural life etc., and the most notable ones are Dasavatharam dolls and dancing dolls.

Also read: Telangana sets up its first toy park inspired by age old tradition