Channapatna toys are a particular form of wooden toys (and dolls) that are manufactured in the town of Channapatna in the Ramanagara district of Karnataka state, India. This traditional craft is protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organization, administered by the Government of Karnataka. As a result of the popularity of these toys, Channapatna is known asGombegala Ooru (toy-town) of Karnataka. Traditionally, the work involved lacquering the wood of the Wrightia tinctoria tree , colloquially called Aale mara (ivory-wood).
The origin of these toys can be traced to the reign of Tipu Sultan who invited artisans from Persia to train the local artisans in the making of wooden toys. For nearly two centuries, ivory-wood was the main wood used in the making of these toys, though rosewoodand sandalwood were also occasionally used.
With no proper backing or marketing, the Channapatna toy industry faced a financial crunch for more than a decade and was almost on the verge of dying out. However with the help of KHDC, the craft has been revived and the artisans involved are being trained on changing trends in the industry, to help them keep abreast of the current scenario. Prototypes designed by master craftsmen are introduced to the local artisans, who use them to create well-designed toys and dolls. The Government of Karnataka has also provided help by constructing a Lacquerware Craft Complex, which has a manufacturing centre with 32 turning lathe machines, at Channapatna. Financial assistance to the artisans, with help from the Dutch Government and the Karnataka Government'sVishwa scheme has also been provided.