Someone sits quietly and chisels away at a piece of wood and turns it into something completely unrecognisable from its plain form. A skilled craftsman sticks to the traditioanal art form, one that has been passed on from one generation to the next. It requires a lot of skills to produce one; each and every piece unique, each piece handlled with utmost care and expertise. This traditional art of making objects--from daily use to decorative items--all by hands, is one of the best examples of India's cultural and traditional diversity. This is India's beautiful and timeless woodcraft. Here are few such traditional Indian wooden handicrafts that deserve a special mention.
Nagina woodworks, Uttar Pradesh
Located in the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh, is Nagina, a village of craftsmen. The region produces world class wooden items, ranging from jewellery, toys to everyday household items. Each piece a work of art, the 10,000-plus craftsmen have managed to produce such fine products that not only they are popular in the country but have found places in international market too. Most of their products are made out of sheesham, mango and Mahogany wood. No compromise with the quality is what they believe in.
Channapatna Toys, Karnataka
The Channapatna town in the Ramanagara district of Karnataka is home to these colourful wooden toys. The town is also known as India's Toy Town. Their popularity has led these toys to come under the GI tag (Geographical Indication--read more about them here). Though traditionally these toys were made of ivory, now they are made of sycamore, cedar, pine, teak and even rubber. These colourful toys are crafted carefully and indivdually, complete with vegetable dyes, a safe option of little children.
Kondapalli Toys, Andhra Pradesh
Kondapalli toys are the result of the 400-year-old art of crafting. The craftsmen are called Aryakhastriyas or Nakarshalu and their crafts mostly depict the rural life, nature (birds and animals) and mythological characters. The craftsmen use a soft wood, locally known as Tella Poniki, sourced from the Kondapalli Hills (hence the name). The use of oil, water colours or vegetables dyes give these toys their colourful and attractive look.
Wooden Dolls of Natungram, West Bengal
Mythology and folklore are the two main inspiration behind these wooden dolls of Natungram. The craft form comes from Burdwan district of West Bengal. When you look for the Natungram toys, you will mostly come across the colourful and wide-eyed owls. But you will also find Gour-Nitai, Krishna and Jaggannath. Both men and women play important roles in the making of these dolls. The carving is done by men and painting by women. On your next trip to Kolkata, look for them.