Gift, decorate trees with Channapatna toys this Christmas :

Posted by-Kalki Team

Instead of baubles, stars and other ornaments, decorate your Christmas trees with Channapatna toys created for the festival. Varnam, a Bengaluru-based social enterprise brought in a range of décor and gift items made out of the traditional art form as a part of a pop-up at The Chamiers Gift Shop.

Chennai: Are you looking out for gifting ideas for the Christmas season? Instead of the usual fare, how about trying out something novel yet closer to roots. For over 200 years, the Channapatna craft has been primarily used to make toys. Varnam, a social enterprise based out of Bengaluru that aims to showcase the versatility of this craft has brought in their latest collection of Christmas gifts and ornaments at a special pop-up, The Channapatna Christmas Story. The designs are reminiscent of vintage European design and include a series of table top, tree ornaments and gifting essentials made with safe natural colours and using sustainable wood.

“Each product has been painstakingly handcrafted by an artisan from Channapatna, Karnataka, using the age-old tradition of lac-turnery. Traditionally used to make toys, this craft requires tremendous skill and precision. The origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of 18th Century ruler Tipu Sultan, who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of these wooden toys,” says Karthik Vaidyanathan, founder of Varnam. Among other things that you can buy for the festive season are their little mouse Christmas bells, X’mas trees twisted to make storage jars which can hold little knickknacks, tree ornaments, rocking red-nosed Rudolf made of beechwood and Pala indigo plant as table top decorations and much more.

“We planned the prototypes in March itself. About 40 artisans worked on them,” he adds. Channapatna, a small town on the outskirts of Bengaluru, is popular for its wooden toys and lac-ware. As a result of the popularity of these toys, Channapatna is also known as gombe gala ooru (toy-town) of Karnataka. Its traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization (WTO), administered by the Government of Karnataka.

“The idea is to re-orient our crafts to the modern context by ensuring that each design has a utilitarian value and thereby, is relevant today. There is a constant dialogue with my artisans on current market trends in terms of finish of the product, its utilitarian value, attention to detail and other such aspects. In doing so, I hope to enhance their sense of pride for their skill and ensure that these crafts continue to thrive,” says Karthik, who started Varnam about four-and-a-half years ago to resuscitate life into this art form that has been dying a slow death over the last few years.

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