Kondapally Toys popularly known as Kondapalli bommalu are toys made in Kondapalli near Vijayawada, AP, India. Traditionally they were used during Sankriti and Navrathri, when women assemble toys known as Bommala Koluvu.
The toys are made by artisans said to have migrated from Rajasthan several generations ago.The artisans who make these toys are known as ‘Aryakshatriyas’. It is said that these craftsmen migrated from Rajasthan to Kondapalli around the 16th century bringing with them the art of crafting toys. This 400-year-old tradition has passed on from generation to generation with every member taking part in the toy-making activity in ‘Toy Colony’ of Kondapalli. There is also reference to this group of people in the “Brahmanda Purana”. This community claims its origin to Muktharishi, who is said to have been endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva himself. These chitrakaras (craftsmen) 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.Over the years, Kondapalli toy has become a collectible from a plaything. The shift ate into the repurchase market because, unlike children’s toys, which tend to break, collectibles require little replacement. An integral part of the Dusshera and Sankranthi celebrations is the ‘BommalaKoluvu’ or ‘Kollu’, when toys are collected and ceremoniously displayed and most children and women would vie to have the most grand and elaborate collection. The artisans of Kondapalli would make the most business during these festivals, but these traditions are slowly vanishing and with them artisans are forced to look at measures to cut costs and switch to enamel colors instead of natural dyes.Though there was neglect of the interests and development of the Kondapalli artisans due to the advent of mechanized toys, the scenario has completely changed in recent years. The Government, Governments departments, certain institutions and organisations are giving a helping hand in developing this industry.
Kondapalli toys are chiseled out of locally available special light softwood locally known as Tella Poniki and painted with vegetable dyes, and vibrant enamel colours are popular for their beautiful artistic work. Traditional Kondapally palm tree toys, bullock carts toys, caparisoned elephant toys, village backdrop toys, Brindavana etc.
The most popular toys are Dasavatarams (ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu) elephant with Ambari, bullock cart, geethopadesam, palanquin-bearers carrying the bride and bridegroom, toddy tapper, set of village craftsmen, besides animals. The papier mache swinging doll is a favourite with many.