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Channapatna toys on display outside a handicrafts store in Karnataka

Bangalore attracts tourists and the urban population in two concentrated areas. One is the Bangalore-Mysore Road, and the other is at the helm of Brigade Road. At these places, colorful toys are displayed in scores, some in large woven baskets, some hanging off colorful threads, and some of the larger ones sitting pristine on the footpath, watching the movement of the people. These toys are the famous Channapatna craft of Karnataka, the pride of the state.

The Channapatna craft originated in Persia, and Tipu Sultan is said to have patronized it in Mysore. Local artists were taught how to carve wood into these geometric patterns, and color them with dyes, way back in the days of the Vijayanagar Kingdom. They survived the patronage of many rulers after that, and have a global acclaim today.

A small town between Bangalore and Mysore, Ramanagara, has kept this craft alive. Earlier, the wood was primed by hand, but when the craft declined, Japanese technology was introduced by Bavas Miyan, to help cut and shape the wood. He is known as the unofficial Father of Channapatna toys. Dyeing and processing is still done manually.

A Channapatna artists carving shapes on the wood manually Image source: wikimediawikimedia

Channapatna toys are made from soft woods. They are carved from ivory wood, or aale mara as it is known in Kannada. Sometimes, special toys are carved from rosewood and sandalwood as well. Ivory wood, being light in color, and almost weightless makes for a suitable material to craft children's toys. It easily takes on the dyes as well, which are made from turmeric, Kumkum, and vegetables. The wood is first dried, sanded, and then carved. After this, it is checked for uneven surfaces, and when the shapes are approved, it is painted and sold.

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In 2010, when US President Barack Obama visited India with his wife, his interest in these toys earned them global acclaim. In 2015, they were featured as the theme for the Bengaluru Republic Day parade. Since then, many international companies and businesses have invested in this handicraft.

A Channapatna artist painting the toys using vegetable dyes Image source: wikimediawikimedia

Ramanagara is known as Gombegala Ooru in Kannada which means "Town of Toys". It was a vibrant business centre in the days of Tipu Sultan, and today, it has preserved its identity for its unique art. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has come to recognise this town as a Geographical Indication for its work. Channapatna toys are available in stores all over Karnataka, and are special features at places like Chitrakala Parishad and Cauvery Emporium. They are also sold online.

Keywords: Toys, Handicrafts, Channapatna, Karnataka, Dyeing, Ramanagara.


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Books that you can read in 2022.

Reading allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the world around you, stimulating your creativity and keeping your mind engaged.

A list of new releases published by Aleph:

What the Heck Do I Do With My Life?: How to Flourish in Our Turbulent Times

Many causes, including technology, climate change, demographics, and inequality, will cause our planet to change more in this century than in all of human history. Extreme change is offering unparalleled opportunities for individuals, companies, and society, as well as a 'adaptive challenge.' Those who can adapt to a fast-paced, complex, dynamic, and unpredictably changing world will prosper. Those who are unable to do so will suffer immensely.

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There are obvious signals that we need new ways of thinking about the world and our place in it all over the place. Our old ways of thinking about education, lifestyle, success, and happiness are no longer valid. What are the changes in the workplace? When future jobs are still being invented, how can you know what talents will be useful? Will 'jobs' even exist in the future, or will we be relegated to a world of projects and freelance work? What do you do with all of this and more?

What the Heck Do I Do With My Life? is a book on figuring out what you want to do with your life. Ravi Venkatesan argues that effective adaptation in the twenty-first century necessitates a "paradigm shift," a new attitude, new talents, and new techniques. Ravi also considers how, rather than drifting along like a piece of driftwood, we will need to live life more consciously, making deliberate decisions about who we are, what we do, and how we live.

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It's A Wonderful World: A Memoir

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