In August this year my friend Abhishek, my brother Fabian and I decided that we had to get out of town and do some photography.. and that we did! We drove out to the beautiful city of Mysore, stopping over at the town of toys, Channapatna. With his connections, Abhi arranged a visit to one of the toy makers here. Channapatna is known the world over for the famous wooden toys that are hand carved using simple tools. The wood is fixed to a motorized spindle and the workers carve and colour the wood as it spins at a rapid pace. The toys are coloured with organic lacquer. All dyes that are used in the process too are organic.
This quaint little town is not too complex and we found the factory pretty quick. We got introduced to the owner of the factory and the 12 workers who sat at their stations going about their work. The factory was a tiny room with not much ventilation. There was saw dust and wood shavings all over the place. The smell of the rose wood filled the room. We were lucky that the owner took the time to explain to us how the whole process worked. He explained how the wood is first cut into smaller pieces. It then gets passed on from one person to the next, each one contributing to it’s shape, design and color. Once completed the smaller pieces are put together and made into larger wooden toys.
This very creative industry is in doldrums today because of the falling demand for these handmade toys . Most of the labourers have moved away seeking other jobs due to the low wages they earn. This industry depends a lot on power. Due to the largely undependable power supply the industry is facing a lot problems.
That day is not too far off when this industry shuts shop for good, giving way to the mighty mass producers from China.
Another piece of history that’s slowly dying out..sad but true.