There are many villages in Telugu states, which are known for one or another handicraft or art form which makes Telangana and AP, popular destinations for arts and crafts. Located on the banks of Varaha river in Vishakhapatnam district of AP, Etikoppaka is a small village which is well known all over for toys made using lacquer. These are also called Etikoppaka toys or Etikoppaka Bommalu.
The toy making industry of Etikoppaka originated in Nakkapalli village located nearby and the cottage industry has grown well over the last few decades. These toys are also called the lacquer toys due to the colors and most importantly the lac which is used. Etikoppaka village is known for its lac industry, and this has resulted in an exclusive tradition of making attractive toys. The lac resin is obtained from the secretions of numerous lac insects and is used for many purposes, including toys and crafts.
The wild lac is collected by the rural people from the forests of Eastern Ghats close by and clear lac is extracted from the raw material wherein the crushed lac sticks are tied within a thin cloth. The contents are then dipped in hot water.
After blending the clarified lac obtained is oxidized with other naturally extracted dyes. It is now readily applied to the finely carved wooden articles. The vegetable dyes which are readily prepared are further mixed to this lac, during oxidation process. The product obtained as a result is rich and colored lacquer which is used to decorate the Etikoppaka toys, and exported to toy collectors and art galleries all over.
The wood used to make these toys is soft in nature and hence, the art of toy making is also called as Turned wood Lacquer craft. A wonderful range of attractive colors such as olive green, ochre, turquoise and indigo blue are used too. When the lacquer is clearly processed with these blends, the wooden artefacts get an exquisite luster.
The artefacts of Etikoppaka which are finely painted with oxidized lacquer, are also given a final furnish using a mogali reku (kevda leaf) making them quite charming. The wide, attractive range of colors and subdued elegance makes these lac toys quite adorable. The artisans also create table lamps, candle sticks, mobile holders, curtain rods, ear rings, pens, pen stands, key chains, bangles, and other decorative items.