Toys are made for different uses like utility purpose, ornamental value etc., and some of the toys are made very artistically. Toys are those wonderful small things, which have been an integral part of our lives right from childhood, entertaining us and giving us our first set of learning in life.
One such glorious tradition is that of Nirmal toys. These world-famous wooden toys are made in the historic town of Nirmal in Telangana state. Nirmal craft is known for its age-old origin, dating back to the Kakatiya era. The recorded history states that it is a 400-year-old rich tradition encompassing soft wood toys and attractive paintings, and furniture, occupying the pride of place in the larger context of Indian handicrafts. These toys are made of finely carved wood.
The town of Nirmal has been a prominent production center for many such items, especially war cannons and toys from a very long time. The foundries which have been established here supplied key ammunition to the Nizam army of erstwhile Hyderabad state while the Naqashi craftsmen, have contributed their rich skill in the form of the exclusive wooden toys. These are coated by duco paintings, which is a highlight of Nirmal Art. The dynastic legacy of Hyderabad Nizam’s is considered one among the many reasons why this art had flourished far and wide. The strategic location of Nirmal town, connecting North and Central parts of India with South India has also contributed for the variety as well as popularity of this art from many centuries.
According to local legend, the Naqashi families of Rajasthan migrated to this region during 17th century and it is they who brought this art. The Naqashi artisans produced these toys from the local variety of softwood initially, called poniki or white sander. The usage of the duco colours, makes these toys popular for its typical shine. These are also painted in enamel colours, which brings a unique look to them. Nirmal toys are even painted with herbal extracts, which imparts a golden sheen, in addition to exclusive and rich oil colors.
The cottage industry here comprises of Nirmal toys, Nirmal paintings etc., which is a main source of livelihood for the artisans involved in this trade. The toys made in Nirmal constitute ideal gifts and souvenirs and hence they are widely popular. Nirmal toys are used for decorating living spaces, office spaces and art galleries. The tradition of toy making is also a matter of academic interest for other craftsmen, who visit the town from other parts of world. Nirmal is located at a distance of nearly 220 km from Hyderabad.