The Art of Wooden Toy Making in Varanasi

Varanasi and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh are renowned for their wooden lacquer items and wooden toys. These toys are crafted with the natural grain of the wood, making them unique in design and diversity. The craftsmen here are part of the Kunder Kharadi Samaj and take great pride in their work. The wooden toys made in Kashi are not only attractive but also safe for children as they are made without joints. The artisans here have mastered the art of creating toys depicting mythological characters, as well as masks used in Ramleela performances.

They also make a variety of other toys such as ghunghuna, jhunjhuna, birds, horses, elephants, and chariots. The process of making these wooden toys involves various techniques such as slouching, polishing, chiseling, carving, cutting, and bending wood on a lathe. The craftsmen here are highly skilled and have been passing down their knowledge from generation to generation. However, with the changing times, there is a need for diversification in designs to keep up with international and national trends. In order to support the craftsmen and promote the export of wooden toys from Varanasi, a common facilities center equipped with a training center for design diversification, a raw material warehouse, and a suitable packaging center should be established. This will not only help the craftsmen stay updated with current trends but also increase demand for their products. The success of the wooden toy manufacturing industry in Varanasi can be attributed to Godawari, who was awarded nationally in 1953 for his contribution to the craft.

His grandson Uday has continued his legacy by documenting information about various craftsmen and requesting their artisan cards through the Khilauna Udyog Sahkari Samiti (Committee of Toy Industry Workers) established by his grandfather. However, the wooden toy industry in Varanasi is facing some challenges. Due to insufficient power supply, the production of toys has decreased from 50 pieces per day to only 15-20 pieces. This has also affected the business as most toys are made to order for exporters and retailers. Some toys are displayed for sale in showrooms, but the lack of energy supply has hindered the production process. In an effort to modernize the wooden toy industry, some manufacturers have started making electric toys.

Singh, a wooden toy manufacturer, has successfully created a wooden train engine that runs on a battery. This shows that with innovation and adaptation, the wooden toy industry can continue to thrive. The city of Varanasi is known for its rich handicraft industry, and wooden toys are an integral part of it. The craftsmen here continue to create wonders out of wood, showcasing their mastery of the lathe and their meticulous attention to detail. These toys come in various colors and sizes, symbolizing the varying degrees of hope that continue to shape the craft community. With the support of Division Commissioner Varanasi Deepak Agarwal, a concrete plan has been made to promote the export of wooden toys and other handicraft items from Kashi.

This will not only help in preserving this traditional craft but also provide employment opportunities for the craftsmen. The modernization of toys has led the wooden toy industry in Varanasi to reach international standards. However, this has also brought about some challenges such as low wages for the craftsmen. It is important for us to support these artisans and appreciate their skill and dedication towards keeping this craft alive.

Myron Burglin
Myron Burglin

Extreme bacon enthusiast. Unapologetic twitter enthusiast. Avid web scholar. General music geek. Hipster-friendly social media advocate. Freelance twitter trailblazer.

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