Since when have you been making Kondapalli toys?
I have been doing this since I was 16. I learnt the art from my father and other family members. Now 18 people work with me on these toys. Our bullock carts and couple figurines sell the most.
The government wants artisans to make toys with moving parts. Are you worried?
Why should I be worried? Most craftsmen already know how to make toys with moving parts but we usually don’t make them to maintain the tradition of Kondapalli toys. But I think a little change is always good. For instance, we traditionally use natural colours on our toys, but when foreigners ask for glossy toys, we use enamel paint.
Have you ever made a cart that moves?
No, I have not, but I have a good idea how to get my toys to move. It is not very difficult, a tweak here and there will get them to move.
How do you deal with competition from Chinese toys?
Yes, there are a lot of Chinese toys in the market but there is no comparison between Kondapalli craftsmanship and machine-made toys. First of all, our toys are made of soft, light wood and carved by hand. We use vegetable paints on them. The toys represent various forms of village life. For decades, people have been buying our toys because they represent a certain tradition.
Around 50 families are involved in making Kondapalli toys now. Is the art dying?
More and more youngsters from Kondapalli are taking up other professions. But if the government promotes the art, Kondapalli toys can have a good future.