Leather toys from Indore, Madhya Pradesh are lifelike animal sculptures moulded and covered with leather skin and painted to give a realistic look.
Craftsmen and their families in Indore, Madhya Pradesh have been practicing this art for decades now and are masters in creating miniatures to life size versions of all types of animals.
The inspiration behind Leather Toys
The art of making Leather toys is said to be inspired from Taxidermy, the art of preserving animals in their original shape, after being hunted.
Once a recreation activity for rich and royal families, animal hunting and preserving their bodies as decorative articles was a symbol of royalty and luxury.
But the artistic craftsmen of Indore, Madhya Pradesh brilliantly took inspiration from Taxidermy and created leather toys as artefacts available for everyone.
How is a leather toy made?
Craftsman first starts with creating a skeleton of the desired animal with steel wires. This skeleton works as a frame on which the rest of the material is added.
The frame is then covered with closely packed hay or waste paper and is bound with strings to hold it together, forming the body of the animal. The bodyi is then layered with cardboard pulp.
The details of the animal’s muscular anatomy in different poses are shaped in the cardboard covering. After the cardboard is dried up, it is coated with leather using natural adhesive.
The toy is dipped in dye and sun dried. Craftsmen then put the eyes, horns and other additional details as per the creature’s anatomy. Lastly, desired spots, stripes or patches on the animal’s skin are painted and a final coat of leather polish completes the process.
The popularity of leather toys
The leather toys of Indore, Madhya Pradesh have earned the GI – tag (geographical indication) and have huge demand in international as well as local markets.
It serves as a decorative art piece adding to one’s luxurious lifestyle and notable souvenirs for visitors to the markets in Indore.
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A few YouTube Videos on the Leather Toys of Indore
“A country remains poor in wealth both materially and intellectually if it doesnot develop its handicrafts and its handicrafts & handloom industries. It lives a lazy parasitic life by importing all the manufactured articles from outside”.
~ Mahatma Gandhi