The villagesin the region of Eastern Ghats in Andhra have always been known for one or another handicraft. 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 Etikoppaka toy making industry originated in Nakkapalli village located close by and the cottage industry has flourished here over several decades. The toys are also called as lacquer toys because of the colors and the lac which are used.
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.Process of Making Toys
• 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 readily 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. A complete new range of attractive colors like ochre, olive green, turquoise and indigo blue are also used. When the lacquer is processed with these new blends, the wooden artefacts obtain an exquisite luster.
The Etikoppaka artefacts, which are painted with oxidized lacquer, and given a final furnish with a mogalireku(kevda leaf) makes them quite charming. The wide range of colors and the subdued elegance makes these toys quite stunning.
The artisans here have diversified the products over the years with 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. The master craftsmen of Etikoppaka have received coveted awards, and showcased their wares at several prestigious venues, in India and abroad.