Destinations Magazine

Kinnal Craft: a Heritage of Wooden Toys Near Hampi

By Rashmi Gopal Rao

It is the time of the year when festivities have begun and there are celebratory vibes all around.  Markets abound in color and cheer.  It is also a time when you find little stores in nooks and corners all around Bangalore retailing clay and wooden toys.  Yes. it is the season of Navratri and “Gombe Habba” in Karnataka.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near HampiGoddess Durga in the making

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi

While toys are synonymous with the little town of Channapatna, there is another hidden gem of a place near Hampi that is into the making of wooden toys.  It is Kinnal village in the state’s Koppal district which is located about 55 km from Hampi.  The village is home to about 25 families that are into the making of unique handcrafted toys and religious idols.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi
Artists in Kinnal

A craft that dates back to the days of the Vijayanagar empire (15th and 16th century), the ancestors of these artisans are credited with working on the exquisite carvings on the Hampi chariot as well on the famous mural paintings in the Pampapateshwara Temple.  While large religious idols for the local temple festivals are their forte, the craftsmen also make smaller idols during the season of Dasara.  Idols of Hanuman, Garuda, Ganesha, Durga and Shiva Parvati are most popular.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi
Lord Hanuman in the making

The toys are totally handcrafted and are made from the soft wood of a tree locally called “Ponki marra”.   A rough sketch is drawn on the block of wood and then the process of etching and chiselling takes place.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi

If the toy is large, individual pieces are joined together using an indigenous paste of tamarind pulp, jute fiber powder and other ingredients.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi
Indigenous gum to assemble parts of the doll

The idol is then painted white and then the actual colours are applied.  Another highlight of these idols is the technique of polishing which is done by melting pieces of metal; this is called Lajawara technique.

Kinnal craft: a heritage of wooden toys near Hampi

Kinnal lies about 365 km from Bangalore and can be accessed by road.  Koppal which is 15 km from Kinnal is the nearest railway station.

An more detailed version of this article can be found here.


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