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I am talking of Toys of Yore, which our grandparents and parents played with.  Of course, these are now Vintage materials displayed in showcases and Exhibitions.

Those were safe toys and did not come with a tag “not safe for children under 3 years”.    It reflected the skill of the artisans who created them from simply and abundant materials like mud, wood, cloth, and stone.  Artisans of the past generation received patronage from the Kings and rules through grants of land and money.

Some towns and cities in India became famous because of the toys made in that area:

Traditional Clay Toys of Tamil Nadu

Tanjore toy photoPhoto by amitrakar

Terracotta toys of Tamil Nadu are made in the Chennai, Thanjavur, Kanchipuram belt and in some parts of the Arcot district.  The features of these toys like the Chettiar and dancing doll toy are very colorful and realistic.  Other toys depict stories from mythology, Purana and epics.The material used was rock clay and French chalk powder.  These dolls are now usually displayed in Bomma Kollu or Doll display during Dusherra.

Clay toys of West Bengal

In West Bengal, Clay toys are made in Jainagar, Rajgarh and Krishnanagar.  The toys have sharp and clear cut features.  The most common topics of these toys are rustic life, Gods and Goddesses and Animal figure huts.

Toys of Orissa

Wooden Toys of Burgarh are quite famous in Orissa.  Made from Gamhari wood , the toys depict animal figures, Gods and Goddesses.  Their handiwork is in folk style –  brightly colored in various hues  The wood is very light and is now used for making household articles like lampshades and boxes.

orissa toy photoPhoto by BOMBMAN

Wooden toys are also made in Puri, Orissa.  They are abstract, and peculiar in design.  Akin to the reigning deity Lord Jagannath, the toys have huge heads, no legs, elongated eyes and are always in  squatting position.  While the toys depict Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balaram, they also depict demons like Ravan with colorful ten heads.

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Puppets of Rajasthan

Puppet of Rajasthan are made of clay and wood.  They would appear in every fair or festival across Rajasthan.  These toys of Yore were used for narrating stories, legends and epics.

Chennapatna toys

Do you remember the rocking horse you played as a child?  Mine previously belonged to my grandfather and was gifted to him at age 5 .  It was  sturdy enough to hold my grandfather, father and even me till I became a 10 year old.  Oh!  I loved to play on it till I overgrew it.  The rocky horse is one of the toys made by Chennapatna toy artisans.  Chennapatna toys are carved from wood and colored with natural vegetable colors.  It was even patronized by Tipu Sultan.  These days the artisans sell

  • wood stackers, tops, pulling toys,
  • games like tic-tac-toe sets,
  • Montessori material like parts of body toys, Mix n Match puzzles insert tray puzzles etc.

They also sell home décor products and wooden artifacts.  This is one of the ways in which Toys of Yore have been adapted for modern times.

Kondapalli Toys

kondapalli photoPhoto by Raksh1tha

Kondapalli toys are made in Kondapalli town, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh.  These Toys of Yore are very famous nowadays because of the beautiful Carvings and great themes.  Most dolls they make are based on Hindu Mythlogy.  Other toys reflect rustic life in Indian villages .  Some typical Kondapalli toys sets are the Ten avatars of Vishnu, Lord Ganesh, Lord Krishna surrounded by Gopikas, Rama and Sita on a boat, Marriage sets, women pounding rice, Elephants carrying kings, Bullock carts and many more.

Sahranpur Toys

Sahranpur, Uttar Pradesh is popular for its Lathe and lacquered toys.

There are many Toys of Yore across India that have not come into limelight.  Efforts are being made to make toys as per the requirements for the present generation.  Many artisans who learnt their craft and are now jobless. The Government and many NGOs are giving them a new lease of life by getting orders for them.  I hope the end result would work best for children.

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Featured image Photo by Enchant_me


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