Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kondapalli Toys

Kondapalli Toys find a prominent place in South Indian homes during the festivals of Dussehra and Makara Sankranti. These toys are crafted in a town called Kondapalli in Krishna District.
Themed around mythology, rural life and animals, these toys exhibit joyous and realistic expressions. There is a strong influence of Islamic style in the art. It is believed that this art originated in Rajasthan, since the pointed nose and veil of the human figures is reminiscent of the 17th century Rajasthani style.
‘Tella Poniki,’ a particular variety of soft wood, is used in the making of the Kondapalli toys. The wood is seasoned and cut into appropriate size. Each organ of the body is separately carved and joined together with an adhesive paste derived from tamarind seeds. A coating of ‘sudda’ (white lime) is given over the surface. The toy is colored with watercolors using a goat-hair brush

With the advent of modernization, the delightful picture of quaint village life seems to be vanishing fast. Kondapalli toys have, however, have managed to preserve the rural flavour of life in the form of art, and brought it to homes everywhere, whether in a remote rural home, or a big city bungalow. Most Kondapalli toys are depictions of different components of village life. The Kondapalli toys have become the pride of Andhra handicrafts. They are so popular that people don't realize that these toys are not manufactured or factory-made; they are still made by hand in the hills of Kondapalli, a village about 30 kilometers from Vijayawada.

Toy making is a cottage industry sustained by some 50-odd families living in the hills of Kondapalli. Working for a minimum of 10 hours and a maximum of 18 hours a day, their work schedule is largely dictated by the demand that varies throughout the year.

A cloth is then fixed on top of the makku-covered toy, further reinforcing the strength. This is followed by application of the primer and then comes the final step of painting the structure. A majority of those engaged in the painting work are women who make Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 in a day. Fatima explains how three kinds of paints - oil, vegetable dyes and enamel - are used to enhance the beauty of the toys. Oil paints are used for regular toys, vegetable dyes for the export quality toys and enamel paints on pieces created for special occasions.

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