Wooden Lacquerware Toys of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh was once one of the largest toy producing centres in India. It is an ancient craft, where the toys are made in wood with sets of birds, animals, orchestras, and dance ensembles available packed in boxes. These toys are gaily painted and typically Indian but not folk in design.The toys made in Varanasi include the child Krishna flying on a very large bird, contemporary mobiles of fish, ducks, cows, horses, and other animals, tortoises that move their necks and tails, dolls of all shapes and sizes, and furniture for them.

The toys can be found in all sizes and prices --- from a 1inch mobile to a large 2 feet tall doll, and with prices ranging from Rs 20 upwards. What one misses are the wooden lattus and bhambiries ---nevertheless the toys are beckoning.

The wood has changed. Earlier sal or seesham was used in the making of the toys but due to increased prices, cheaper, lighter wood is now being used. The paints are bright and usually applied in primary colours. The tools are a carpenter's tools --- a saw and chisel for working on the wood.