Etikoppaka is a village on the banks of the Varaha River in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, India. Etikoppaka means, a group of houses on the banks of the river. It is 65 km from Visakhapatnam. Etikoppaka has a population of around 12,000. The village economy is mostly based on farming. More than 200 artisan families live in this village.
Coming into Etikoppaka, this small village reminds one of childhood days, of vivid, sparkling wooden toys and colorful objects that were the source of endless joy.
Etikoppaka is famous for its age-old tradition of wooden carvings and artefacts, especially the toys, mythological figures and carvings that are created to resemble the shapes that were excavated at the sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
The toys are usually made of wood. The wood is soft and has a fine grain. Women and children pick it up from nearby hills and leave it to dry in the courtyards. The workplace and tools are primitive. It is a wonder that with these primitive tools, objects of such skill originate here.
From small tops and toys for children, to candle-holders and table lamps, Etikoppaka makes them all in a range of rich and wonderful colours. The easy availability of softwood (Wrightia tinctoria) in the village has sustained the craft for nearly two centuries now. But, until recently, all this was not known to the world outside the village. A combination of luck and good sense changed all that in the last few years.
The toys of Etikoppaka are not only meant for children but cater to the needs of daily use. From candle stands to vermilion boxes and bangles,these pieces are very popular at weekly mandis. These toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Craftsmen also make toys that are used for marriage ceremonies and other rituals. Their enchanting designs, bright colours and earthly appeal are very attractive. Today, they are a part of the rural folk tradition. Toys made at Etikoppaka reveal some little-known cultural practices of the region and display the creative skills of its makers.
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