Kondapalli Toys are toys made of wood in Kondapalli of Krishna district, a nearby nearby Vijayawada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Bommala Colony meaning ‘Toys Colony’ in Kondapalli is the place where the art of crafting takes place.
The art of crafting is a 400 year old tradition. The artisans who make the toys are referred as Aryakhastriyas (also known as Nakarshalu), who have their mention in the Brahmanda Purana.
These craftsmen are said to have migrated from Rajasthan in the 16th century to Kondappali and claims their origin to Muktharishi, a sage endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva.
The Kondapalli toys are made from soft wood known as Tella Poniki which are found in nearby Kondapalli Hills. Each part is carved out separately. Then makku- a paste of tamarind seed powder & sawdust is used to join pieces together, add details and finish the toys.
The later step involves coloring with either oil and water-colours or vegetable dyes and enamel paints are applied based on the type of the toys.
The artisans mainly work on producing figures of mythology, animals, birds, bullock carts, rural life etc., and the most notable one is Dasavataram, dancing dolls etc.
Kondapalli toys are famous for their light weight, vibrant colors and age-old production techniques. Themed around mythology, rural life and animals, these toys exhibit joyous and realistic expressions.
The art shows the strong influence of Islamic style and pointed nose of the human figures is reminiscent of the 17th century Rajasthani style.
The artisans who make these toys are known as ‘Aryakshatriyas’. It is said that these craftsmen migrated from Rajasthan to Kondapalli around the 16th century bringing with them the art of crafting toys.
This 400-year old tradition has passed on from generation to generation with every member taking part in the toy-making activity in ‘Toy Colony’ of Kondapalli.
There is also reference to this group of people in the “Brahmanda Purana”. This community claims its origin to Muktharishi, who is said to have been endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva himself.
These Chitrakaras (craftsmen) claim that it was their ancestors who sculpted the numerous sculptures like the Garuda, Nandi, Simha and the Vahanas in the many temples in Andhra Pradesh.
Over the years, Kondapalli toy has become a collectible from a plaything. The shift ate into the repurchase market because, unlike children’s toys, which tend to break, collectibles require little replacement.
An integral part of the Dusshera and Sankranthi celebrations is the ‘Bommala Koluvu’ or ‘Kollu’, when toys are collected and ceremoniously displayed and most children and women would vie to have the most grand and elaborate collection.
The artisans of Kondapalli would make the most business during these festivals, but these traditions are slowly vanishing and with them artisans are forced to look at measures to cut costs and switch to enamel colors instead of natural dyes.
Though there was neglect of the interests and development of the Kondapalli artisans due to the advent of mechanized toys, the scenario has completely changed in recent years. The Government, Government departments, certain institutions and organisations are sincerely giving a helping hand in developing this industry
The art form which has got patronage from the rulers in ancient times is in decline due to lack of profits, time taking to produce toys, influence of western art and younger generations not encouraged towards this art.
Lepakshi and Lanco Institute of General Humanitarian Trust took initiative to keep alive this art of crafting toys
Situated in the heart of Andhra Pradesh, the village of Kondapalli is home to one of India’s most treasured artforms − Kondapalli toymaking. Sharing the honour of legacy are the families of Kondapalli, Vijayawada, bringing forth this ancestral tradition and striving to keep it alive in a modern world.
Holding this traditional art form close to their souls, the Telugus of Andhra Pradesh take great pride in nurturing their timeless art of carving delightful toys out of wood.
Colloquially known as Aryakshatriyas or Nakarshalu, the Kondapalli artisan finds mention in the legendary Brahmanda Purana. Such is the timelessness of handicraft, continuing to shape the identity of society by preserving culture.
In 1999, empowered by the government’s recognition of Kondapalli toymaking as one of India’s geographical indication handicrafts, the beautiful art form sets higher hopes for the future of craft.
The craft of Kondapalli has undergone refinement over four centuries, igniting a sense of spirit among the artisans. No more divided by region or caste, today’s Kondapalli community is a result of diversity and passion, speaking in varying dialects but sharing an unbreakable bond through art.
In times kinder to the common artisan, handicraft enabled balance in society. A heightened sense of purpose remained the top priority while the artisans of Kondapalli delightfully seized the day.
Comparing it with today’s economy where bland manufactured products have become conventional, these wooden curios handcrafted with the utmost care are the diamonds in the dust.
One cannot overlook the artisan’s attention to colour and style and ponder upon the brilliance of its sculptor.
A swift influence of Islamic and Rajasthani forms can be seen in the woodwork and detailing of each toy. Starting off with blocks of Tella Poniki wood abundant in their region, the artisan leaves the logs under the sun for 20 days for seasoning the perfect wood.
The wood feels magically light and easy to work with, after which the artisan begins chiselling out the shape of the toy. He masterfully chisels the smaller components of the toy separately and fastens the pieces together with locally made acacia gum.
Centuries of handicraft evolution has enabled the artisans to select the most suitable techniques for the cause. As the artisan softens the edges and perfects the angles, the charm of the toy starts to shine through the previously dusty log of wood.
The Kondapalli curios are made waterproof with linseed oil and exotically rendered with vibrant colours to finish the look. Armies of iconic wooden toys are stacked at the end of the day, each unique and priceless in its own sense.
Global demand for authentic Indian handicraft is skyrocketing with the spread of awareness. Kondapalli toymaking is an invaluable asset to the rural communities of South India.
The craft enables a life of self-sustenance to the illiterate population of Kondapalli by earning a livelihood out of what they do best. Their incredible flair for woodcarving is irreplaceable, giving us one more reason to treasure this cultural ethos of South India.
Shopping catalogue at Artsytribe holds some of the most iconic Kondapalli toys. The famous bobbling-head dancing girl known locally as Kondapalli Aatabomma, the elegant women drawing water and the bullock cart − to name a few.
When festivals are around the corner, Kondapalli Bommalu get off their shelves and become the main attraction of the day.
Sankranti is celebrated in vigour with an arrangement of Kondapalli ensemble, narrating tales of religion, society and folklore.
With their creative take on traditional themes, the artisans devote a large portion of their work to rural life and spirituality. The enchanting village of Vrindavan with Krishna and Radha figurines, bullock carts and children engaging in indoor games are some of the most revered themes of Kondapalli.
Entertaining the young and the old alike, Kondapalli Bommalu (Doll) have certainly earned their spot as the most beloved form of handicrafts in India.
Kondapalli Bommalu, the signature speciality of Andhra Pradesh, fit right into your collection of authentic handmade art. They are also called by the name “Koyya Bommalu” locally. By emulating ‘rural’ into ‘urban,’ they add personality and joy to homes.
Government venues are presenting Kondapalli Bommalu at social events as tokens of recognition and gratitude. Both a child’s favourite and an adult’s pick, Kondapalli toys are for everyone.
ArtsyTribe extend support to the local artisans of Kondapalli and deliver these carefully crafted memoirs of love to your doorstep. Whether thoughtfully gifted by a daughter to her nostalgic mother or by a mother to her little daughter, it brings an unforgettable smile.
Wooden Painted Toys of Kondapalli, locally known as Kondapalli toys in Andhra Pradesh are world-famous for their special wood that adds a touch of aesthetics to drawing rooms with their finely created figurines.
These toys have carved a niche of their own in the world of handicrafts. Nimble fingered artisans carve with aplomb, as characters emerge and evolve from light soft wood.
The wooden piece is heated to make it moisture-free. Different parts of the image are carved separately. They are then glued together with an adhesive made of crushed tamarind seeds.
Both water and oil colours are used to paint the toy or figurine. Painting is done with soft and thin paint brushes made of goat’s hair.
The toys depict scenes from actual life, animals, rural folks, deities and characters from the epics. Kondapalli soldiers, pen stand, Dasavatar set and the Ambari elephants are among the famous items produced by the artisans here.
The small wonders, made of white Poniki and painted with natural colors like vegetable dyes, are a collector’s delight. Vegetable dyes are used for painting the toys which are of export quality while Oil paints are used for colouring the toys sold within India and enamel paints are applied for the toys made for the purpose of special occasions.