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Channapatna

All materials used in it are completely natural. They use vibrant and bright colors to make the toys attractive. I will always remember the story of Channapatna as the one about spirited craftspeople making toys for the happiness of children. - Kalyan Yasaswi

All materials used in it are completely natural. They use vibrant and bright colors to make the toys attractive. I will always remember the story of Channapatna as the one about spirited craftspeople making toys for the happiness of children. - Kalyan Yasaswi

SHOWCASE

  • BIRDS OF A FEATHER

    It's a refreshing change to see houses of all shapes and sizes painted in bright and beautiful colours unlike the busy cities we live in. It seems like these houses are made and decorated with the same care a bird makes its nest, one piece at a time.

    • 0195
      Manor Blue
  • THE COLOUR OF RITUALS

    Apart from art and crafts, colours also play a part in religious rituals at local temples. I walked through the markets and noticed heaps of yellows, reds and pinks. 

    • 7957
      ORANGE PEEL
  • FROM THE TOY STORE TO THE FARM

    Cattle rest in a shed after a tiring morning shift at work. Bullock carts are used to transfer the precious raw materials and other products around the town. The cattle and the cart are both decorated with paint and bells. 

    • 9280
      SEA EXTRACT
  • COLOURS EVERYWHERE

    I visited a warehouse of toys that was run by the local government. Batches of toys from various workshops are sorted and catalogued here, before moving out to the market. I found it endearing to see colour applied in unexpected ways to the warehouse itself.

    • 7941
      TURMERIC
  • LITTLE HELP. LONG WAY.

    Charan's family runs a small manufacturing unit. They take a small loan from the bank each season and work throughout the year to repay it. I have seen very few young people involved in this art.

    • 9190
      CLASSIC BLUE
  • ART IS MAGIC

    These simple tools are no less than magic wands in the hands of the expert craftsmen. I saw hammers, chisels and simple everyday tools, fashioning wood and lacquer into vibrant playthings for children.

    • 8261
      THUNDERCLOUD
  • THEY MAKE IT LOOK EASY

    The skilled artists in the warehouses are ambidextrous. They use the same proficiency in carving the wood into beautiful shapes as they do with using the lathe machines that the wood is fixed to.

    • 8234
      FLEECY COAT
  • NO ROOM FOR ERROR

    A craftsman carefully sands a toy for smoothness. Hours go into perfecting every single toy that goes out of the workshop. After all, they go into the delicate hands of children.

    • 7983
      CANYON SUN
  • SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

    The glossy lacquer polish dries up almost instantly due to the heat produced by the friction. The gleam and shine add more dimension to the colour and make the toys safe for children.

    • 3176
      MID BUFF
  • ALL YOU CAN EAT

    Since the toys of Channapatna are made primarily for children, it is essential for them to use non-toxic and non-chemical colours. Vegetable based dyes combined with lacquer is used to apply the polish seen on these toys.

    • 7142
      VIBRANT MAUVE
  • LITTLE BUNDLES OF COLOUR

    A set of bright red toys stands out in stark contrast against wood shavings in a factory in Channapatna. More often that not, toys are made in bulk and shipped out together to stores nearby.

    • 8093
      PURE RED
  • NOT JUST DONE BY MEN

    Though the toy making industry mostly consists of men, I have seen a fair share of women working in home manufacturing units. Such units mostly have a family of artists working together and participating at different stages of the process.

    • 8000
      Perfect Pitch
  • IT TAKES MORE THAN ONE

    A toy giraffe is waiting for it's turn to be primed. The artists later use stencils along with spray paints for the patterns and other details. Larger toys and toys with moving parts involve more than one artist in the process.

    • 7210
      HYACINTH MIST
  • A DIFFERENT KIND OF ASSEMBLY LINE

    An artist paints the frames of the rocking horses you see in the background, before it gets passed onto another artist who will apply fine details to the toy.

    • 7677
      DARK DRAMA
  • THE ICONIC HORSE

    The rocking horse is perhaps the most famous toy made in Channaptna. This classic has survived the test of time and is still very popular among children.

    • 8143
      POMEGRANATE
  • UPS AND DOWNS

    Since Channapatna is not a major city, there are regular load-shedding and unexpected power outages. These leave the factories and other small units that use the lathe machines crippled for several hours in a day.

    • 7246
      INK BLUE
  • UNLIKELY SOURCES

    In a quiet corner of the city, an elderly gentleman is silently sitting outside his house and making wooden beads. These wooden beads are stringed together to make a seat cover for cars.

    • 0R05
      MAHOGANY
  • INTERACTIVE TOYS

    Cars have wheels that turn, many toys have bobbing actions and more. I found it interesting to see the level of detail that went into the design of each of these toys.

    • 7963
      LIGHT CHROME
  • ABSTRACT IMPRESSIONS

    I wondered to myself more than once: is that toy a giraffe, or is it a duck? These brightly coloured toys will easily attract your attention. Identifying them though is another matter altogether.

    • 7869
      Polka
  • OF LORDS AND KINGS

    The origin of the craft of wooden toy making was under the reign of Tipu Sultan, who was known as the Tiger of Mysore. These toy soldiers are a tribute to the glorious military past of the place.

    • 8253
      RAVEN SONG
  • OLD THINGS. NEW EYES.

    Tiny pink percussion instruments, miniatures of the Indian "mridangam", sit in a bright tray in a store. I wonder what the child of today makes of these toys which are clearly from a different era, a different age.

    • 9413
      Pink Silk
  • A NUCLEAR FAMILY

    I was surprised to find that these were not just toys, they were representations of the society that the toymakers live in.

    • 9333
      GEMSTONE
  • MUSIC TO THE EYES

    Music played a very important role throughout the history of Karnataka. It is not a surprise that even the toys in Channapatna are fashioned to look like musicians or musical instruments.

    • 9141
      PLATINUM
  • MUCH MORE THAN TOYS

    While Channanapatna's toys are the most famous export, there is a lot more that these master craftsmen produce. Home decorations, for example. The town is awash in colour from a million different ornaments and decorations.

    • 7172
      Gam Stine
  • Painted toys, painted workshops

    Much like the toys they make, the workshops of Channapatna and in fact even the houses were painted in bright attractive colours. It adds a much needed contrast to spaces otherwise filled with wood and machines.

    • 9333
      GEMSTONE
  • A WINDOW INTO THE PAST

    I found Channapatna to be disorienting: the toys there took me back at least 20 years. To a time when things like this brightly coloured top were commonplace. The town, and the craft, seems like a time out of time.

    • 8093
      GEM STONE

    PALLETTE

    Channapatna
    • 8245
      Tar Road
    • 7158
      Royal Robes
    • 9421
      Fabric Pink
    • 7917
      Thar Desert
    • X120
      Code Red
    • 8538
      Fennel Seed

    PROFILE

    Kalyan Yasaswi
    Photographer

    Kalyan Yasaswi is a renowned lifestyle photographer, with interests in fashion, portraiture, weddings, and people and relationships in general. In his half a decade of experience, he has travelled the world, with 150+ assignments in over 20 countries. Over this time, he has crafted a unique style of storytelling that is at once intimate as well as dramatic.

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