Varanasi being the cultural center of India is one of the largest toy producing city in India. The ancient craft of wooden toy Industry are made in wood with set of characters, animals, birds, orchestras and groups. These toys are gaily painted, folk in design and found in all sizes from a 1 inch to a large 2 feet tall.
Varanasi has a rich culture of storytelling through its toys. It helps in educating the children about their culture. Toys and miniature kitchen sets for children are produced in vibrant colors.Children also grow up playing with these toys, which creates a beautiful bonding between them. The craftsman, who practices this art, passes it on from one generation to another. But the scope of this craft is limited.
Markets are over-flooded with the modern plastic and metallic toys. The handcrafted toys are comparatively costlier due to man power and Chinese toys involved in it. Nowadays, machine work is popular because it is done with care, fineness, and brings smoothness with intricate details. Woods prices have become higher as they are making toys with eucalyptus, sheesham and sal. Now lighter wood and bright colors are used for making toys. The cost of color and dyes used for painting toys have been increased. Apart from that substitute wood are also adding trouble to the craftsmen. Coraiya and ghurkun are primarily used by artisans because of softness and fine finishing.
Toys and idols of Gods and Goddesses are created by peeling, cutting and shaping the wood with knives and other equipment. Wood art are shaped by machines which includes spherical, cylindrical or diametrical and items like pen stand, vermilion case, boxes and other traditional and religious items. Thus uninterrupted power supply is needed for making these kind of toys. An alternate power source like generator is not possible for them as they can not afford it. Thus the production of toys have decreased to almost 50% due to erratic power supply. Human Welfare Association has stepped up to promote and preserve traditional wooden articles and toys.