Kinhala Craft

            Kinhal (kinnALa) is a small village, about 13 kilometers away from Koppal the district headquarters. It is well known for the manufacture of wooden toys and other arte facts, from the sixteenth century. It is practiced by a few families who are known as ‘chitragars’. (Painters) They claim that their ancestors migrated from Gujarat during the days of Vijayanagar Empire. It is also possible that they have migrated from Andhrapradesh. The artists of Kinhal trace their lineage to one Sanjeevaiah Chitragar. They were patronized by the kings of Vijayanagar to begin with and later by the Nawabs of Koppal, Desais of Kinhal and more particularly by Nawab Salar Ali Jung the renowned art patron of Hyderabad. The interface between these forms and the common patronage led to a mellow blend of Hindu and Islamic art forms that is a signature feature of the Kinhal craft. This catholic patronage has resulted in a craft that transcends the boundaries of religion both in terms of motifs and methodology.

These craftsmen manufacture idols of Gods, animal toys, crowns and masks used in dramas, panels painted with mythological themes, cradles and furniture. However Kinhal craft is now famous for the life like replicas of fruits and vegetables. These are manufactured from soft wood such as drumstick wood.

Actually, the manufacture of these toys is a complicated process. Various parts of the product are joined together with a paste made of Tamarind seeds and pebbles. Once the task of assembling the parts is over a mixture called ‘kiTTA’ is applied all over on the toy, by hand. ‘kiTTa’ is a churned mixture of jute rags soaked in water, saw dust and Tamarind powder paste. After the application of ‘kiTTa’, the ornaments and jewelry are embossed on the body of the toy with the help of pebble powder paste and liquid gum. Another layer of pebble powder paste on the kiTTa completes the basic process and the toy is now ready for painting with bright coloured organic dyes. Vegetal and mineral colours like ochre, brick red, deep green, white, black and lapis were the base colours used to develop other shades. Of late, the artists have started using synthetic colours. Toys depicting artisans such as a carpenter or a balcksmith was once a specialty of these artists. Their style is very realistic, particularly so when it comes to fruits and vegetables. There are instances of a Ganesha statue containing 22 components. Some times, even lowly material such as cow dung and sawdust are used to manufacture these toys.   

Kinhal as mentioned earlier is not confined to toys and vegetable replicas. The range of their products included large wooden idols and murals, (Jaya-Vijaya, dashAvatAra, kAma-rati and many village deities) palanquins and decorative umbrellas and decorative plates. 

Recently Crafts Council of Karnataka has taken up a project to reinstate the glory of Kinhal craft in collaboration with student volunteers from Glasgow, Scotland. 



Further Reading and links:






 Home / Folklore and folk arts