I look forward to the Dastakar fairs at Nature Bazar, New Delhi as they are a treasure-trove of brilliance in arts and crafts from all over India. I have been a regular at Dastakar for many years now, and for me, it’s my ‘happy-place’. So much to see, so much to admire and shop! One such spectacular find for me has been the wonderful collection of toys and other unique home decor products from Channapatna.
Channapatna, a small town in Karnataka, about 80 kms from Bengaluru (off the Bengaluru-Mysooru highway) is known as the ‘toy town’ or ‘Gombegala Ooru‘ in the local language. The legacy of toys from Channapatna goes back to over 200 years when Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore invited artisans from Persia to teach and train the local artisans in the craft of toy-making. This traditional craft is now protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization and is now administered by the state government. This craft form has seen some bad days with a plunge in demand for toys, but has now seen a sharp surge in requirements for novel, eco-friendly toys as well as niche home decor products. Designers like Atul Johri and Nishi Chauhan have used the Channapatna lacquer-ware very creatively to create masterpieces. Nishi Chauhan was awarded the ‘Red dot design award 2014’ for her creative lamps with bottles, mason jars along with colourful Channapatna elements.
Like most other artisans, the Channapatna craftsmen are also plagued by the agents and middle-men keeping hefty margins for themselves, leaving a much smaller share for the artisans. However, the overall environment is changing with the government providing marketing support to the artisans and NGOs, other small scale industries setting up base in the town thereby increasing employment and reducing the dependency on middle-men.
Without further ado, presenting the colourful, vibrant, eco-friendly toys from Channapatna
A few prominent names that have taken the Channapatna toys to even greater heights and made them popular the world over are Maya Organic and Varnam, in addition to a host of other toy destinations online, like Channa toys and Kasitoo at Craftsvilla.com. Do have a look at their marvellous collection!
There are a host of other products being made at Channapatna, with it’s credit going to new-age designers who have re-interpreted the craft form keeping today’s requirements and utility in mind. A prominent name is Atul Johri who has designed a wonderful collection of lamps, tableware, tea lights, vases and more using the lacquer-ware of Channapatna. The team at Varnam has given a new dimension and a facelift to the home-decor range being made at Channapatna. Presenting some of their work that are on my ‘lust-list’!
Serveware and the The Kitchen
Home decor and lights
Designers have experimented with this craft form to make so many niche products, including christmas tree ornaments, babushka dolls and jewellery! If the colours of Channapatna have stolen your heart, get a lovely piece for your home! Make your pick from the stores we love – Varnam, Caravan Craft in Bangalore, The Purple Turtles in Bangalore, Channa Toys, Maya Organics and so many more! Happy Shopping!