In India, the art of toy making is practised in almost every region of the country. What varies is the type of toy crafted and the material used. Apart from being used for play, toys are also made specially for ritual and auspicious occasions. Clay toys from Lucknow flourished in the past under royal and aristocratic patronage; today, however, this craft has only a limited market. What is unusual about these toys is that they are made and sold as sets based on a theme: for instance, there are sets on the leaders of India, on the brides of India, a set of bhangra
dancers, a band of musicians, and several other varied and interesting themes.
Materials and Process
Special black clay is used for making these toys. This clay is procured from the mittivalas/mud collectors who source it from a special area of Lucknow called the Kala Pahad (black mountain).The most difficult part of this process is the making of moulds for the different toys. The moulds are either of clay or of Plaster of Paris and are crafted by the artisans themselves or by specialists in clay modelling. The making of a mould is an expensive and time-consuming process requiring detailed and painstaking work; these toys are in miniature form and getting the right expression, the correct stance and individual detailing requires careful attention and immense skill. Most artisans pay great attention to the making of the mould since this is the basis of their craft. Once the moulds are baked, they usually last a li...