Toys of Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry

Toy-making is a widely practised craft in Pondicherry where different materials are used in their production. Shell toys consist of large individual shells or small ones stuck together to form an animal or a person.

Homemade toys in this region are made of leaves, fruit skin like pomegranate skin, twigs, paper and wire. Vahanas or vehicles made of wood on wheels are usually pull-along toys for the child or amy also be used as walkers for toddlers. Madurai specialises in metal-creations mainly in brass. Careful attention has been taken to reproduce the minutest detail in order to maintain originality of work.

In areas around Kumbakonam, toys are also made of pith, which is the hard core of a water reed found in the tanks, swamps and lakes. The ivory-coloured reed is soft, smooth and extremely pliable that allows it to be fashioned into playthings. In Mannapadu, toy animals are made out of palm leaves, which are dipped into colour and interwoven into creative forms.

Toys made of wood are lathe-turned, lacquered and brightly coloured. Cooking vessels and walkers known as kadasal are very popular while carved wooden toys like dolls and elephants exhibit the range of skills of the artisans.