As one enters the town of Nirmal, it is hard to miss the Nirmal Toys & Arts Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd which is about ½ km away from the RTC Bus stand. Even with an immense variety of toys and paintings on display in many sizes, one can easily ascertain that the themes predominantly revolve around mythology, rural life and flora and fauna. The series of birds with their colourful plumage was quite striking.
The quaint town of Nirmal is nestled amidst hills and forests, and is also well-known for its handicrafts viz. toys and paintings. The toys made here are renowned for their variety and vibrant colors. Many other artifacts are also made like plaques, furniture, jewellery boxes and screens.
The interior of the store opens into a spacious workshop where one can watch the toys being made. In a number of rooms various toys are brought to life and one can see them in different stages of production. While the horses are being carved in one corner, some storks are being painted in another room and parrots perched on a custard-apple are left to dry.
This tradition of making wooden toys is around 400 years old and is said to have been brought to this region by Nakashi families from Rajasthan. The locally available ‘tella ponki chekka’ is used to create these toys due to it’s softness and flexibility. It can be easily moulded into any desirable shape or size as per the design of the toy that needs to be created. ‘Chinta lappam’ is specially prepared to glue different parts of the toys together and then used as a coating as well. Chinta lappam is made by boiling tamarind seeds and sawdust with a subsequent coating of white clay. This also smoothens the depressions or ridges and makes the surface smooth and even ready for the coat of paint.
Bright colors are used to paint these toys once they are dry. In the past, natural sources were used to procure the colours, these days synthetic colors are also used.
A lot of dedicated effort is required to transform simple materials into exquisite crafts and articles of utility. In the past, Nirmal handicrafts thrived under the Nizami patronage, but today the craftsmen are trying to keep pace with changing trends. In doing so, they should also ensure that they do not lose the traditional roots and intricacy of the art-form.
Maybe, for the coming Sankranthi/Pongal festival you might know where to head to add to your toy collection.
Nirmal Toys & Arts Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. –
Phone: +91 08734 – 242356 or +91 40-27610008