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Channapatna Toys: A Visual Essay

Gombe in Kannada, the lingua franca of the people of Karnataka, means gudiya in Hindi or toy in English. Channapatna, a taluka about 70 kilometres from state capital Bengaluru in Ramanagara district of Karnataka, is also known as Gombegala Ooru (the land of toys). This is because artisans of this town are engaged in making specialised kinds of wooden toys.


In fact, the process of making these toys, which is even today confined to the homes of artisans in Channapatna, is protected under the Geographical Indication tag of the World Trade Organisation. The making of these toys can be traced back to the reign of Tipu Sultan, the king of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore (now Mysuru) from 1782 to 1799.


Manufacturing stages include procuring wood, seasoning the wood, cutting the wood into desired shapes, pruning and carving toys, applying colours and finally polishing the finished product. Vegetable dyes are used in the colouring process to ensure that the toys are safe for use by children.