Etikoppaka toys of Andhra Pradesh in the spotlight

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the efforts of toymaker CV Raju in reviving the historical wooden lacquer craft toys throughout his ‘Mann ki Baat’ tackle

Toymaker CV Raju from the small village of Etikopakka, close to Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, was in for a shock on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed his efforts in reviving the historical wooden lacquer craft toys throughout his ‘Mann ki Baat’ tackle.

About three many years in the past, Raju — additionally an agriculturist — revived the dying artwork of making wood toys amongst the craft neighborhood of Etikopakka. He focussed on strengthening the conventional, native data of making vegetable dyes, growing new instruments and methods for growing their shelf life and producing new makes use of for them.

Says Raju, talking over telephone from Etikoppaka, “It is a big boost to us as a craft community to get recognised by the Prime Minister, especially at a time when we are struggling amid the pandemic and also facing a threat of extinction.” He has been instrumental in bringing a couple of shift from the use of titanium dioxide bonded artificial colors to vegetable dyes in the wood toys.

The custom of toy-making in Etikoppaka dates again a number of hundred years. The toymakers obtained patronage from the prosperous landlords of the area again then, to make toys for his or her kids.

Over the years, the system modified however the toymakers couldn’t improvise a lot. The revival occurred from 1988 onwards, when Raju began attending national-level workshops and dealing with Crafts Council of India. He began with studying the use of vegetable dyes on cloth after which on wood toys. He then explored the Eastern Ghats and the secret dyes in the crops’ roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds.

His experiments resulted in pure dye concentrates in over 12 hues, together with royal crimson and indigo. The toxicity take a look at on dyes was performed by the Crafts Council of India. The new set of colors infused life into the craft.

Then in 1992, for the first time, toys with vegetable dyes made their manner from Andhra Pradesh to Vadodara for a nationwide exhibition. Etikoppaka toys obtained the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Geographical Indication Registry (GIR) in 2017.

The neighborhood right now has round 150 households who practise the craft kind. The wooden is sourced from regionally grown ankudu or Wrightia tinctoria bushes. Ankudu plantations have been performed on 60 hectares of degraded forest land from 1997 onwards by the State’s Forest Development Corporation. However, after Chinese toys invaded markets, the US and European international locations enforced stricter laws that eroded their worldwide marketplace for the Etikoppaka craftsmen.

COVID and the craft

During the lockdown, the craftsmen struggled with unsold stock and e-commerce helped little. “No postal and courier services are willing to come to the village now. We require someone who can hold our inventory in Visakhapatnam, from where we can start delivering in the domestic market,” says Raju. Archiving, documentation and design improvisation are the want of the hour, he provides. “Setting up an interpretation and deign development centre would help in preserving this ancient craft,” says the toymaker.

PM Modi’s name for making India the world’s toy manufacturing hub as half of the ‘vocal for local’ slogan has given a thrust to the craftsmen, who at the moment are hoping to get the mandated certification for declaring that the toys are protected (not containing poisonous parts). “This is the pre-requisite for marketing the toys to the US and Europe,” says Raju.

Raju will be reached on 9701057267.

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