TOY-MAKING IN CHANNAPATNA
In the 1700, upon receiving a gift from Persia, Tipu Sultan invited Persian artisans to his kingdom to train local craftspeople in the art of lacquered wooden toys. Over the last few centuries, the craftspeople in Channapatna, have continued to adopt and adapt lacquerware skills and techniques from far-flung empires.
Towards the end of the 20th century, workers and their livelihoods suffered at the hands of toxins from poor quality raw materials. Interventions from the government and NGOs have since helped reintegrate safe tools and natural, vegetable dyes into the production system.
Today, the work of the Channapatna toy-makers boasts Geographical Indication (GI) status under the World Trade Organization. This label demonstrates the recognition of human talent and skill, the use of natural and environmentally friendly raw materials and techniques that are indigenous to the region.
We travelled three times this year to the small town of Channapatna on the road connecting Bangalore and Mysore, from where we source many of our embellishments. A local businessman, Mr Sayyed, and his fellow craftsman, Mr Imran, were kind enough to give us a demonstration on the lacquer production and toy making process. We thank them for giving us a better understanding of the historical and present-day significance of this age-old craft!