Updated: Sep 12
If you are a young parent, you might have experienced that the needs of your child change rapidly as he or she is developing new skills every day. However, it is important to be conscious of the products that we let our children use. As responsible individuals, we must start training our children from a tender age to adopt and choose products that are sustainable in nature. More often than not, this means that you will have to pick up handcrafted toys that are made using wood, natural dyes, etc. It is also essential to choose toys that support the cognitive development of your child and are engaging and entertaining just the same.
Toys have existed in India since the Indus Valley Civilisation. Since then, these simple playthings have evolved into what they are today. Toys and games are not only meant to entertain children but also to teach them how to develop their minds and boost their cognitive skills. Unlike the fancy and expensive toys available in the stores, traditional handcrafted Indian toys and games are simple and take their inspiration from nature. They are designed keeping in mind how a child would react to them and how it is applicable in real life.
Here are five interesting handcrafted toys, that you can buy from an online handicraft store:
1.Rattles and Dug Dugi
This is one of the earliest toys that are introduced to a child. Among the many handicraft items online, you can find beautiful and colorful rattles designed for infants. Channapatna toys offer a wide array of rattles that are famous throughout the world. They are often vividly colored and come with a bell in order to help a child use multiple sensory organs. Rattles are also great toys to help a child to learn the early lessons on holding on to items, grasping skills, etc.
A variant of the rattle is the Dug Dugi. The traditional versions of Dug Dugi are made of wood and leather. However, an improvised version is made of paper. Strings, with mud balls at the end, are attached to both sides. The core is then attached to a stick resembling a lollipop. When the stick is shaken left to right, the mud balls attached on either side to the string hits the core to produce sound.
Traditional Indian dolls, unlike the dolls of today, were made of the simplest materials available from plant shoots and cloth to clay and sawdust, and then coated with bright paints. During olden days, dolls and toys were not just casual play materials but are connected to the social and religious rites of a community. In the northern part of India, Janmashtami Celebration of (birth of Lord Krishna)is relevant in its entirety by means of clay dolls. In the Southern part of India, the Dasara festival (A Celebration of goddess Durga) is called Bommai Kolu or Gombe Habba meaning the “display of dolls”.
This is a miniature version of kitchen utensils and other household items that were scaled down to the finest detail. They were made of copper and brass and were played with by kids as they watched their mothers cook and their family members making use of day to day household items. Today, these miniature utensils provide us a clear idea of what life was like in rural households.
The Pachisi board was prepared from a cloth in a patchwork design. The four arms/limbs of the board were conjoined at the center called ‘Char Koni’ and each arm of the Pachisi had three marked squares called castles. This game is a set of 12 beehive-shaped wooden pawns in colors of black, yellow, red, and green. The players threw cowrie shells on the Char Koni and the move of the pawns was determined by the number on the shells that fell with an open face. The goal of this game was to get all the four pawns, belonging to each player, to complete the round of the board as fast as possible. Today, the Pachisi game has improvised versions called Ludo and American Parcheesi.
Pallanguli is believed to have its origins in the hindu holi book of Ramayana when it was created by Lord Rama for his wife Sita to pass her time in captivity of demon Ravana. The game starts with six seeds placed in each cup. The player starting first picks up the seeds from any of the holes and moves anti-clockwise to place one seed in each hole. If the player reaches the end of their cups, then he/she goes to the other side of the board. When the player drops the last seed he/she has, they take the seeds from the next cup and continue placing them in the same way. If the last seed falls into a cup with an empty cup following it, then the seeds present in the cup following the empty cup are captured by the player.
Bringing up a child is a great responsibility, and ensuring that you are offering the best platform for your child to learn and develop is the aim of every parent. The market is full of all kinds of toys for kids, and it is very important to choose the ones that are not only engaging but also help your child in their overall development. By choosing handcrafted toys that are made using sustainable material, you are also starting them early on the path of sustainability, which is an asset to the world both today and tomorrow. While Channapatna toys offer you toys like pull-along toys, stackable and rattles, there are other crafts like Rajasthani puppets, Bankura horses, etc that are beautiful, enriched with traditional details and are a perfect companion for older kids.
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