Channapatna Wooden Toys

in Module
Published on: 04 September 2018

Manasa Gowda & Ram Raj D

Manasa Gowda is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mass Communication at St. Claret College, Bengaluru with about 15 years of experience as a journalist and journalism educator.

Ram Raj D is a journalist with over 35 years of experience, including working as Media Adviser at U.S. Consulate General Chennai for five years.

The artisans of Channapatna, the ‘Land of Toys’, are banking on the superior quality of their products to rejuvenate interest in their over 200-year-old art form, both in India and abroad. The World Trade Organization’s Geographical Indication gives them exclusive rights to sell their toys under the Channapatna name. With the one-and-a-half-year-old Prince of Bhutan being the most recent recipient of these unique wooden toys, Channapatna handicrafts adorn houses across the globe and were also gifted to former United States President, Barack Obama, during his visit to India. While creative entrepreneur-manufacturers are trying to revive the export market, the demand for Channapatna toys in India, as well as their superior quality and safe construction, has enabled them to withstand competition from other types of toys and from poor imitations, especially from China. Channapatna toys are largely made out of ‘soft’ ivory wood (known as alae mara—ಆಲೆ ಮರ in Kannada), and artisans in both manual and mechanised units use non-toxic, non-chemical colours, which they make themselves. This ensures that the toys are safe for children of all ages. This module explore the past and prescent scenario of these unique toys.