Everlasting Glory of Telangana Art

Toys are those delightful articles, which have been a part of our lives right from childhood. Some of the toys are of utility purpose, while others are of ornamental value, made artistically. One such exclusive tradition is that of Nirmal toys, which are world-famous wooden toys, made in the town of Nirmal in Telangana, India.

The actual origin of the Nirmal craft can be dated back to the Kakatiya era. In terms of recorded history, it is a 400-year-old rich tradition that encompasses soft wood toys and attractive paintings as well as furniture, occupying its pride of place in the larger world of handicrafts. The toys are made of finely carved wood. The town of Nirmal has always been famous as a production centre for many items, especially war cannons and toys. The foundries established here supplied ammunition to the Nizam army of Hyderabad state while the Naqqash craftsmen, contributed their skill in the form of the exquisite wooden toys, coated by duco paintings which is collectively named as Nirmal Art. Hence, the legacy of Hyderabad Nizam’s is also one of the reasons why this art flourished well. Moreover, the strategic location of the town connecting North and Central India with South India from several centuries has also contributed for the variety and exclusivity as well as the popularity of this art.

There are many artistic toys produced by the Naqqash artisans in this town which is located close to National Highway No. 7 and situated at a distance of nearly 220 km from Hyderabad. According to local legend, the Naqqash families of Rajasthan who migrated here during 17th century brought this art. The Naqqash artisans initially produced these toys from the local variety of softwood. These are called poniki or even white sander. Since they make use of the duco colours, the Nirmal toys are known for its typical shine and these toys are even painted in enamel colours, which brings a unique identity to them.

The highly admirable skill of the Nirmal artists, especially in synthesizing the Indian and Moghul schools of art is admired very much. Nirmal toys are also painted with an herbal extract, imparting a golden sheen. Nirmal toys are popular as they are embellished with exclusive and rich oil colors. The Mughal miniatures’ painting on the white wood poniki is considered very attractive and bought by art collectors. The motifs which are used in Nirmal craft are derived from the floral designs and frescoes found in Ajanta and Ellora art forms and the Mughal miniatures. There are many utilitarian and decorative articles created in Nirmal style. The cottage industry here comprises of Nirmal toys, Nirmal paintings etc., which commands the handicrafts market, fetching fair prices for the artisans involved in this trade. In fact, Nirmal toys are considered the pride of Telangana and the town has become synonymous with quality art, toys, paintings and furniture. The toys made in Nirmal are considered to be ideal for gifts and souvenirs and hence they are widely popular.