Tag Archives: Art

Crafts: Kondapalli Toys

Continuing our Series on Arts & Crafts  is the native ancient style of wooden toys known to all Telugus. Appreciated by Andhraite and non-Andhraite , young and old alike is that iconic handicraft we all grew up with: Kondapalli Bommalu.


Kondapalli an important town near Vijayawada, in Krishna District. Meaning ‘village of hills’, it is also a village of toys. 16 kilometres from Bezawada, it is celebrated in story and song for its famous fort, immortalised during the reign of the Reddi Rajulu.

Around 500 years old, if not older, this art is credited to and preserved by a community known as nakarshalu (though by some they also called ‘Arya Kshatriyalu’).

There is reference to this group in the “Brahmanda Purana”. This community claims its origin to Muktharishi, who was endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva. These chitrakaras claim that it was their ancestors who sculpted the numerous sculptures like the garuda, nandi, simha and the vahanas in the many temples in Andhra Pradesh.[2]

 It is claimed that this art was brought by migrants from Rajasthan, though these claims still need to be verified by history. One account lends credence to the theory.

 In the 16th century, Anavema Reddy invited around 10-12 families, all wooden handicrafts specialists from Rajasthan, to his court, says Nageshwar Rao, 37, a toy-maker. “All these families from the Nakarshalu community migrated to Kondapalli.” The Reddy kings, impressed by their skill, patronised the artisans and asked them to stay there forever. [7]


Made primarily from a soft wood known as Tella Poniki, which is found in large numbers around Kondapalli itself, these toys have not only become characteristic of Andhra, but have a number of standout characteristics.

Distinct from their Telugu cousins, Etikoppaka Toys, these Kondapalli carvings carry with them a special significance during Sankranthi and Dasara.  They are displayed in bommalakolavu or kollu. Both vahanas and veritable vigrahas of pauranic figures are depicted and showcased during these festivals. They are used to enshrine and enact the various stories contained in our epics.

Prices of these toys range from Rs. 15 to Rs. 800 and the Corporation is offering 10 per cent discount on the purchase during the expo. [5]

At the high end, many toys even reach 5,000 rupees. Themes from Dasavatara and Hitopadesa are common. Nevertheless, the ambari elephant and the kuchipudi dancers remain the most iconic favourites. And the appeal is universal. These craftsmen have a unique place in the hearts and minds of Telugus, young and old alike.

Equipped with ‘bavudari’, ‘palapa chekka’ and ‘aakurai’, generations of these toymakers have managed to bring a smile on the faces of little kids across the world with their pieces of art. [3]


Unlike most modern toys, Kondapalli bommalu use almost all natural ingredients in the process. Tools come in various shapes and sizes and are developed by the craftsmen.

The wood is treated to a slow heating process to dry its moisture content. The limbs of the toys are carved separately and later joined to the body. The essential carving tools are axe, chisel, hammer and drill. [5]

Glue consisting of tamarind paste, lapum, and sawdust is used to assemble them.

This tamarind paste is called makh. Batana (cooked tamarind seed paste) is then rubbed on it along with resin from the tumma tree.Gold and silver foil used to be added for ornamentation. Although water colours, vegetable dyes, and oil paints are now used, traditional rangulu relied on stones, herbs, various gums and other bases. Even the paint brush comes from goat hairs, demonstrating the stress on organic materials.

Ladies are also an integral part of the process, much of the artistry of these dolls being attributed to their skill with a brush. Finished products are often given a coating of enamel paint to enhance their sheen.


Kondapalli Bomma retains an international reputation and is frequently purchased by tourists during their travels in our region. It received a Government sanctioned Geographical Indication in 2007-2008, thereby crediting this handicraft to Andhra. Despite this accreditation, the future of this iconic tradition remains in question.

Over the centuries, the skill moved beyond the Nakarshalu community, and it is no longer a caste-specific occupation. Members of various communities and castes, including Padmashali, Kamsali, Vishwabrahmin, now work in the Kondapalli toy industry. Records of the Mutually Aided Cooperative Society (MACS), established in 2002 by the artisans, show that in February 2017, of the 229 toy-makers in the village, 107 are men and 122 women. Of these, 53 are Dalits, 128 are from Other Backward Classes, 26 are Muslim, and 22 are from other, landed castes.”  [7]

As with many traditional Arts and Crafts of United Andhra, Kondapalli Toys are also on the brink. The community that preserves this ancient art is finding itself in difficult financial straits. 50 families live in Bommala Colony in Kondapalli, fulfilling large orders on the infrequent occasions they materialise. Dependent upon Lepakshi outlets and various art exhibitions, they require reliable and equitable distribution channels to maintain their livelihood and craft.

At the annual Lepakshi Expo, the turnover is around 3 Lakh rupees. While there are cooperatives supported by Lanco group and various efforts ( such as this and this and this and this) to market these products, society-at-large must come together to help these traditional workers compete with the global market of competitors with products sourced from China and elsewhere.

Though there have been some redesign drives to both update the toys and their relevance to the contemporary market, much more work needs to be done in this regard.

The nouveau riche of Andhra again have an opportunity to step and support these workers and protect our common heritage.

In the olden days, Kondapalli artists received patronage from the local rulers. But today these artisans are neglected due to the advent of mechanised toys. Many artisans have given up their profession and are seeking other lucrative jobs. Though the government is trying to rehabilitate this art form, it is up to us to encourage it. It is our duty to do so. [2]

Click here to Buy Kondapalli Toys Today!!!


  1. Gajrani, S. History, Religion, and Culture of India. Vol 2.Delhi: Isha Books. 2004
  2. https://web.archive.org/web/20160127053030/http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/yw/2003/06/21/stories/2003062100470300.htm
  3. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Toying-with-heritage-No-heir-to-Kondapallis-amazing-art/articleshow/47336094.cms
  4. http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/News/ 283_1_REGISTRATION_DETAILS_OF_GI_TILL_DATE_March_2012_Till_Date.pdf
  5. https://web.archive.org/web/20140626104254/http://www.hindu.com/2011/01/12/stories/2011011261670200.htm
  6. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/379894/tales-kondapalli-toys-narrate.html
  7. https://ruralindiaonline.org/articles/no-longer-a-toy-story/
  8. http://www.lepakshihandicrafts.gov.in/blog/kondapalli-toys.html
  9. http://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/know-all-about-the-kondapalli-toys/article7611347.ece

Peddamudiam — Pride of Andhra Pradesh

The following Post was composed by Spandana. You can follow her on Twitter.

Photo: Spandana

Peddamudiam, a village if properly projected would have been a heritage village of our state, if properly maintained would have been bliss for researchers and heritage enthusiasts, if properly maintained would have been a great tourist spot that speaks to many interesting aspects of our glorious past. All these are possible only “IF” our government tends to show a little interest in our past.

Though I am against any kind of comparison with other countries…here I am left with no choice other than comparing. India is 11 times bigger than Italy, and if we check the monuments in both countries, the Indian monuments list is way bigger than Italy; but Italy being such a small country has the highest number of monuments listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is only because they respect their past in such a way. Forget about other countries, if we compare with our neighboring states, our state has huge lagging. The way Karnataka and Tamil Nadu maintain their monuments is remarkable. That is the reason both the states have recorded their entry into the UNESCO Heritage list. It’s not like Andhras don’t have monuments, it’s because we hardly make time to promote them and maintain them.

Coming to the present topic, Peddamudiam is 19 kms from Jammalamadugu, Kadapa district. This beautiful small village, originally known as Mudivemu, has numerous monuments with its unique style of architecture. It is really hard to find from Jammalamadugu that there is a beautiful village around, as no information board is installed. Most of the monuments in this village are ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) recognized monuments, waiting to come out of their neglect. Any heritage lover, any spiritual seeker can’t accept the present vulnerable situation of this age old wonder.

List of Monuments in Peddamudiam

  • Ugra Narasimaha Temple – The most neglected temple, but has beautiful architecture believed to be built by Cholas, later developed by Vijayanagara Emperors. Always deserted, but a pandit from neighboring village comes in the morning for performing basic Pooja for Lord.

  • Mukundeswara Temple Complex – There are 5 temples in this temple complex, 2 Shiva Temples, 1 Narasimha Shrine, 1 Karthikeya Shrine and 1 Shrine for NagaGrahas. This temple complex is the oldest temple complex in the village, Compared to Ugra Narasimha Shrine…these temples are in better condition. Though there is no Information board about the era or dynasty in which they were built, we can easily infer they are very early type of construction and very unique style of Architecture. After multiple trails of finding the basic information about these sites, the conclusion I came to was this:  they existed from Satavahana Era and later flourished in Pallavas and Cholas time.

  • Kodanda Rama Shrine and Old Village Site – Though these shrine looks like Vijayanagara Style, can’t say for sure, as the temple was closed(when we visited), and there is an ancient village site as well, but couldn’t get much information about that(only if ASI takes some strain)…it is just a barren land with fencing. There are big bastions (buruju) in the village—villagers said it is 300 years old.

PS – I personally want to apologize if anyone was hurt by my words .These words are not meant to hurt people, but are meant to showcase the emotions of a person who can’t see our heritage,our past,our identity dying like this.

Spandana also runs the GloriousIndianPast and NeglectedMonuments Blogs.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Kalakada & Andhra’s Great Past

The following Post was composed by Spandana garu. You can follow her on Twitter.

Kalakada Temple

Andhra Pradesh is now making its move towards becoming a technology giant, industrial giant, and what not —all these are positive signs to the growth of our newly re-born State. But at the same time, here we should never forget, we are nothing without our identity…and our identity is our culture, our past, our roots. Just a small introspection is needed for us. How well are we treating our monuments, our old temples, old forts (signs of our past)? Penukonda being the second capital of Great Vijayanagara Emperors, how is its present condition…how many actually visit?

Its not about Penukonda alone; it’s similar condition with all our monuments. Hope we realise monuments are not just old walls and buildings, but they are remnants of our ancestors.

#History of #Kalakada (Chittoor District) has an interesting back ground.


1. #Siddavattam was a kingdom in Kadapa District. According to the oral histories of the region, around the 15th century C.E,  there was a king by the name Chandra Sekhar Varma, of the Vydhaba dynasty. He was an honest but strict king. He had a beautiful daughter, Princess Sathyavathi.

2.It so happened on God’s wish that Sathyavathi became pregnant, despite being unmarried. The Raja became harsh and questioned Sathyavathi about her pregnancy, demanding to know who was responsible for her condition. Sathyavathi replied that she was innocent and unaware of the cause. He couldn’t believe  her.  ‘Sathyavathi’ was a great devotee of Lord Siva. She prayed to him to prove her innocence.

3.Being ashamed of his daughter, Chandra Sekhara Varma wanted to get rid of her. As per his strict view, she had committed an unpardonable crime. The King ordered his daughter to cross Seven outskirts of villages by carrying a pot full of toddy on her head (Kallu), under which there was a Cobra.The pot was made  of wet clay. The punishment imposed on his daughter was unfair and humanly impossible, and at any moment, his daughter would die due to Cobra bite. Sathyavathi agreed to her father’s command and started her journey.


4. The King sent his trusted soldiers along with her. Praying to Lord Siva devoutly, Sathyavathi crossed 7outskirts of villages successfully, and she put down the pot after journeying to an appropriate place. To her astonishment, there was no Toddy (Kallu) in the pot, and instead there was ‘Siva linga’ and a Cobra with its hood on it. The pot disappeared. The Siva Linga is named as “#Kallu #Ghateswar” as it appeared from a pot of toddy (Kallu). It is told that due to her virtue, Sathyavathi turned into a river. Today, there’s a Sangamam (confluence of rivers)with  #Bahuda and #Sathyavathi, where the Siva Linga was installed by Sathyavathi.

5. The local people worshipped Lord Siva and Sathyavathi wholeheartedly. The king came to know the story and repented much for  his foolishness in punishing his innocent daughter. He did namaskaara before ‘Lord Siva’ and asked for forgiveness for this sin. This name of Lord  Siva (‘Kallu-Ghata’) in due  course of time became Kalakada today. Because he fulfilled the wishes of the people, Sadashiva is called “Siddheswara”, which means fulfillment of wishes to those who prayed to Him.

This local legend is considered a real historical story that took place . To this day, people from the 7 outskirt villages come to Kalakada, through the same path by which Sathyavathi travelled, every year and offer their prayers.


There’s a Pallava period monument in the Town (which is under the Archaeology department). At the same time, the pathetic condition of monuments isn’t hidden as well. Kalakada is not the only place. This wonderful state is blessed abundantly with historical monuments, beautiful architecture, and many old Temples.

Another completely neglected monument, probably a #pallava structure and later improved by #Vijayanagara, is this one. It is a temple with great history. Once a grand structure, it is  now prey for our negligence. Our monuments are in utmost need of care and protection.

Heritage sites in Andhra Pradesh are in really bad state and many monuments are ignored and neglected without a record.


Loot by thieves in search of treasure in ancient monuments is not new, here is an epic example of it.It is heart wrenching for any heritage lover to see such old monuments in this vulnerable state. Please share this post to the maximum,and let government act and preserve our roots and heritage.

#Heritageisourpride #Heritagemustbepreserved

Location: Location of the Mandal:- #Kalakada Mandal is located on N.H-18,towards North of #Chittoor, which is 90 K.Ms from District head quarters.



  1. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/13th-century-temple-a-picture-of-neglect/article6795604.ece
  2. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/110117/hyderabad-thieves-looting-antiques-without-any-fear-of-law.html
  3. http://www.chikalakabp.appr.gov.in/home/-/asset_publisher/QOkpuc6kj83c/content/about-kalakada/pop_up?_101_INSTANCE_QOkpuc6kj83c_viewMode=print
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/200-year-old-temple-cries-for-attention/article16546761.ece

Spandana also runs the GloriousIndianPast and NeglectedMonuments Blogs.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal. The Author is responsible for ensuring the factual veracity of the content, herein.

Crafts: Cheriyala Paintings


From the world of High Culture and refined Dance, we move on to the land of popular and provincial culture. Along with the Marga, we celebrate the Desi (pun intended)to connect with our roots.

Continuing our Series on Arts & Crafts , is the native ancient style of scroll painting in young Telangana State: Cheriyala.



Originating in and concentrated around the village of Cheriyala in Warangal District, this craft grew in the heart of modern Telangana state. The rural agglomeration is located 93 kms outside the main city of the District, and is accessible by road or train.


At present, the dating for the technique and style is uncertain. What is known is that it is at least 500 years old (but very possibly much older). In fact…

Scroll painting is one of the ancient expressions in Telangana and dates back to Kakatiya dynasty. The genre of this painting displays the traces of the Kakatiya style of painting, seen in the 12th century wall paintings of Pillalamarri temple and hill temple of Tripurantakam. [8]

In the Pratapa Charitram, Ekamranatha notes that there were 1500 painters around Warangal.

Of late, appropriation of the traditional arts and culture of the region is being conducted by those who seem to think all things of value came from foreigners, including Cheriyala. That is the importance of this genre of painting being associated with the Kakatiyas whose rule began almost 1000 years ago (ante-dating the estimate of 500 years).

Techniques and styles and even methods may actually descend from the ancient Indic style of Pattachitra, which is still practiced in Odisha today, and was renamed as Kalamkari in the Telugu states, during the medieval period. The names may be new: Mahboobabad for Palamooru, Nizamabad for Induru,  Bhongir for Bhuvanagiri, and Kalamkari for Pattachitra, but the origins are native, as was the original fort of Gollakonda. Like Madhubhani of Bihar, and the popular art of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, these styles represent the desi  (provincial) traditions and approaches to art that date back millennia.

Historically, these painted scrolls of Cheriyala were shown to audience members while ministrels sung the genealogies of 7 local communities/castes. These were as follows: “Jaamba puraanam is performed for Maadigas by Dakkali sub caste; the Bhaavanaa Rishi and Markandeeya puraanam is performed for Padmasaalis by Kuunapuli sub caste; the madeel puraanam is shown for chakalivaallu by patamvaaru sub caste; the Gauda puraanam is performed for Gauds by Gaudajetti caste; Paandavula Katha is performed for Mudiraajs by Kaakipadagala sub caste; Addam puranam is for Mangalivaallu by addam varu; Kaatama Raju Katha is performed for Gollavallu by Mandechchuloollu. Instead of scrolls, performers in this Kaatamaraju performance use 53 dolls made by Nakashi artists“. [8]

As such, scenes from the Puranas are commonly ceremonialised in this rustic style of popular artwork. Similar, vibrantly coloured paintings can be found in Telangana’s interior (i.e. countryside Temples) even today.

Cherial paintings or scroll paintings are used by a community known as ‘kaki padagollu’ that uses this medium as a visual aid to narrate stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. [9]


Doo doo Basavanna

There are in fact two crafts associated with Cheriyala. The first is the more famous scroll paintings. The second are wooden dolls and masks.

Despite being scroll paintings made of traditional materials, each one is said to last for over 150 years.


The main attraction of cheriyala scroll paintings is that it is made from all natural materials, and therefore, good for the environment (as well as the heritage workers depending on the craft). The colours are very striking, and are made from water-based and earth-based ingredients.

The powder of a stone called ‘inglikum’ elevates the background in bright red colour, pevudi yellow shades, unique ‘zink white’ is used to depict pearl like ornamentations and the thick Indigo blue colours are used across the paintings making these picturesque frames theatrical representations of life. [8]

Due to the speed at which they can be created, the Cheriyala Scroll painting is a traditional Storyteller’s dream, and is used for that purpose.


The canvas is made from  khadi cloth. On this, coating consisting of “a mixture of tamarind seed powder, white clay, and rice starch is applied thrice to make it stiff“. [4]

After the first coating dries, a second one is added. Gum water is also used.

Brushes made from squirrel hair are used to paint the subject proper. This results in very precise outlining that enhances the vibrancy and redolence of the artwork.


As for the wooden articles, the bommas (dolls) and masks are made from sawdust, tamarind and timber. Coconut shells are also used. Similar coating is then applied.


Despite the ancient history of this lovely pastoral paintings, the future is not as a bright as it should be. Although a Geographical Indicator was given to Cheriyala in 2007, the passing on of its legacy remains uncertain. To maintain an age-old art takes not only time and dedication but also patronage and popularisation. Along with traditional technique, modern marketing methods may be needed to create a demand for such supply and maintain livelihoods for such committed artisans.

Please give your patronage to these wonderful artists who preserve an integral folk tradition. We have showcased artwork from the artist run sites, who can be reached here.

It is not enough to demand government action in everything. Civil society and the people at large must back up talk with action and support the livelihood of these bearers of tradition, with whatever little they can afford to spend.


Click here and buy today!

Depicting one scene in the small scrolls cost about Rs. 500, but the price increases with greater intricacy. For storytellers, the price is quoted per metre of work.“[4]

For a small investment, the livelihood of the traditional preservers of an organic art can be secured. Stories are told not only by cinema or podcast, but by the arts and the crafts. The heritage of a people is based not only in museums and art galleries, but also in the villages and huts of rural India. It is here that the beating heart of the people and their popular culture is protected and passed on for the next generation.


  1. http://www.craftscouncilofindia.org/craft-process/hand-painting/
  2. http://cheriyalpaintings.blogspot.com/2016_01_01_archive.html
  3. http://www.thehindu.com/arts/crafts/scrolls-of-stories/article4098074.ece
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/curator-of-a-tradition/article5138515.ece
  5. http://www.warangalonline.in/city-guide/cheriyal-scroll-paintings
  6. http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2004/05/20/stories/2004052001190300.htm
  7. http://cheriyalpaintings.blogspot.com/2014_07_01_archive.html
  8. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/cheriyal-the-pride-of-telangana/article6596306.ece
  9. http://lepakshihandicrafts.gov.in/cherialscrollpainting.html#

Crafts: Budithi


Budithi brassware is one of the unique metalworks coming out of the Coastal Andhra region (Kosta) of Andhra Pradesh.

The sheen and quality of this craft is apparent at first glance. Used for a variety of purposes, it is a must have for any AP household, and the feature this week in our continuing review of the Handicrafts of Andhra.



This native craft of Kosta originates in a small village called Budithi in Central Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh. The municipality is located 40 km outside the district’s eponymous city.

The history of brass and bronze casting and metal working is an ancient one, particularly in the old Andhra desa. Its use may date back to the era of swords and shields, but its application extended to even gun metal in recent centuries past.

It received a GI (Geographical Indicator) tag, per the related Act in 1999, and is therefore a unique and much prized craft in the international market of decorative metal ware. [5]


Budithi is known by the beautiful figures are created out of metal alloys. They are crafted in both traditional and modern styles.

These alloys are typically made of brass and feature a variety of geometric and floral patterns. They are simple yet striking. They are used for a variety of purposes from decorative art to flower pots to even prized cooking utensils.

Pots and jugs in particular are famous for their elegantly lean necks. The mouth of jars are also distinctive, and bell metal has also been used to make polished mirrors.

Black and gold rings are the unique features of the product. Locally available, non-toxic black powder is the base for the effect. This produces a beautiful look and finish in the process.


Budithi Handicrafts Designs

While the traditional process for bronze-casting and brassware manufacturing is fairly standard, what sets Budithi apart is the craftsmanship and specific regional touch. Most notably, locally available natural resources are used to produce a tell-tale black coating.

The beauty of this is unlike modern industrial chemical-based manufacture, the special black powder used for the coating is non-toxic. This is another Unique Selling Point of the product.



Budithi is Kosta’s counterpart to Telangana’s Pembarthi. As a traditional metal craft, it has a standing reputation for splendid brassware. Items such as jars, mirrors, bells, and even utensils have made it an art with wide applicability.

Ostensibly, arts and crafts will have to adapt to the present time and shifting tastes. More modern fashions necessitate the marketing know-how to adapt and properly influence artisans to the meet consumer demand. But with the right business mind and patron, or a community-based effort, Budithi can again make its name in the international marketplace.


Irregular power supply  in recent years and difficulty in getting products to market at present have put workers dedicated to this craft in dire straits. They themselves have complained of lack of government support and of distribution channel difficulties.

A familiar tale by now, the younger generation sees no prosperous future in this industry and is sadly leaving the village, along with generations of tradition. Once 400 families maintained this handicraft, but now that number is down to an estimated 30 families. [9] So start today, and give patronage to these great artisans of your home state.


  1. http://www.aptourism.gov.in/index.php/k2-separator/k2/item/274-budithibrassware.html#.VsNAQr-uAk8
  2. http://www.onlytravelguide.com/andhra-pradesh/arts-crafts/budithi-brassware.php
  3. http://www.discoveredindia.com/andhra-pradesh/culture-in-andhra-pradesh/handicrafts-art-and-craft-in-andhra-pradesh/budithi-brassware.htm
  4. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/traditional-crafts-attract-delegates/article354303.ece
  5. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Hans/2016-01-23/Geographical-Indication/201919
  6. http://srikakulamgeneralinfo.blogspot.com/2009/10/budithi-handicrafts.html
  7. http://www.slideshare.net/naveenkumargattupalli/geographical-indications-of-andhrapradesh
  8. http://www.craftrevival.org/CraftArt.asp?CountryCode=india&CraftCode=000253
  9. http://www.indiantravelportal.com/andhra-pradesh/arts-crafts/budithi.html
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy-8pKQ3U6A