Wooden Toys of Gokak, Karnataka


In Gokak, a village in Belgaum district, artisans create wooden fruits, vegetables, animals and birds using a specialised soft variety of wood --- usually hariwala, polki, and hale. This craft is at least 200 years old. Gokak toys are noted for their artificial fruits and vegetables. The craft is hereditary and the artisans are called jingars. Gokak toys have always been appreciated for the natural and realistic colours used by the artisans who are experts in the use of different hues and shades. The preparations for toy-making are very laborious. Pebbles are crushed into powder and passed through a thin piece of cloth to be made into a paste. This is mixed with liquid gum which has also been filtered. The wooden products are given a coating of this. Over this, a coating of chalk powder and liquid gum, which is also filtered, is applied. Any defects are covered by glue and then by craft paper before the final coating. This process is done four times. Earlier the colours were prepared by the artisans themselves using indigenous raw materials; now readymade dye powders are used. Over 144 kinds of toys are made here. They are made as single units or in bunches --- fruits are attached together and leaves are added. Some fruits like the melon or pomegranate are shown in cut form, thus exposing the inner portion. Fruits like grapes and bananas are shown only in bunches. Trays are piled with fruits and sold as a unit. Betel nuts, leaves, limes, and spices are also made.

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