Located on the banks of the river Varaha in Vishakhapatnam district of AP, is a small village called Etikoppaka which is known for toys made with lacquer. These are traditionally known as Etikoppaka toys or Etikoppaka Bommalu.
The villages situated in this region of Eastern Ghats have always been known for one or other handicraft. The Etikoppaka toy making industry originated in Nakkapalli village located close by and the cottage industry has flourished here over several decades. The village is very famous for its toys made of wood. The toys are also called as lacquer toys because of the colors used. The village has a glorious history where the local jamindarsrecognized the potential of these attractive toys much before independence
Process of making toys
The village of Etikoppaka, is known for its popular lac industry, which has given rise to an exclusive tradition of making toys. The word 'lac' is originated from the Sanskrit word "laksha" since the lac resin is obtained due to the secretions of numerous lac-insects. The wild lac is collected by the women and children of the village from the forests of Eastern Ghats nearby. Clear lac is obtained from the raw material by tying the crushed lac sticks within a thin cloth. This is followed by dipping these contents in hot water.
After the clarified lac is blended and oxidized with other natural dyes, it is readily applied to the lathe turned wooden articles. The already prepared vegetable dyes are further mixed to the lac, during the process of oxidation. After this process, the end product obtained is rich and colored lacquer. The lac dye is used for decorating the Etikoppaka toys, which are exported all over the world. The allure of the Etikoppaka wooden toys not only suits the needs of small children, but these colors are also considered safe.
The wood used is collected from the dense forests of Eastern Ghats and are colored with natural dyes derived from seeds, lacquer, bark, roots and leaves. The wood used to make the toys is soft in nature and the art of toy making is also known as Turned wood Lacquer craft. The artisan families participate in the Community Forest Management programme, for growing more ankudu trees from which the wood is obtained, in addition to other dye bearing species. A complete new range of attractive colors like ochre, olive green, turquoise and indigo blue are obtained here. When the lacquer is processed with these new blends, the wooden artifacts obtain an exquisite luster. The Etikoppaka artefacts, which are painted with oxidized lacquer, and given a final furnish with a mogalireku(kevda leaf) is simply a thing of beauty.
Range of toys
The wide range of colors and the subdued elegance makes these toys quite stunning.The artisans here have diversified the products over the year. There are whole new set of articles these days like table lamps, curtain rods, candle sticks, mobile holders, ear rings, key chains, pens, pen stands, bangles, and other decorative items made here.
Recognition for Etikoppaka Toys
Ahmedabad-based National Innovation Foundation has documented the making of Etikoppaka toys extensively while the master craftsmen of Etikoppaka have received coveted awards, and showcased their wares at several prestigious venues, including Rashtrapati Bhawan. The journey of success by Etikoppaka artisans shows that in an age where the cultures and societies are being increasingly homogenized, the traditional handicrafts like Etikoppaka have given a unique identity to a village, and a sense of pride.