Poniki wood scarcity hits Nirmal toy makers

Poniki wood scarcity hits Nirmal toy makers
Highlights

Nirmal toys, which reflect the lifestyle of rural India, are world famous for their uniqueness and craftsmanship. Only natural colours and lacquer are used to decorate the softwood toys which give them an exquisite look in the age of robotic toys. 

The long gestation period of Poniki tree species is a major hindrance to grow it in the forest to meet the softwood requirements of Nirmal artisans

Adilabad: Nirmal toys, which reflect the lifestyle of rural India, are world famous for their uniqueness and craftsmanship. Only natural colours and lacquer are used to decorate the softwood toys which give them an exquisite look in the age of robotic toys.

More than 50 families of artisans, which are dependent on the craft for their livelihood for ages, are facing a bleak future now. It has become increasingly difficult for them to continue in the age-old profession in the wake of severe scarcity of Poniki or white sander wood, the vital raw material for the eco-friendly toys.

The long gestation period of Poniki tree species is a major hindrance to grow it in the forest to meet the softwood requirements of Nirmal artisans. Hence, alternative measures need to be taken to augment the supply of Poniki wood. Otherwise, the unique tradition is set to be extinct soon rendering the artisans jobless.

Speaking to The Hans India, an artisan, Srinivas said: “We are finding it extremely difficult to procure the softwood. Forest officials are preventing us from collecting Poniki wood in the wild. They are also registering cases and imposing fines on us for possessing the softwood. At the same time, the Forest Department is not supplying the softwood to artisans. The poor artisans are not able to purchase Poniki wood during once in a while auctions conducted by the department.’’

Echoing the same views, Mohan, a painter, said: “Earlier, the government used to conduct workshops on skill development for artisans. The conduct of skill development workshops was altogether stopped in the recent years. The government seems to be least bothered about the plight of Nirmal artisans.

Instead of initiating measures to revive the dying art, it has completely ignored the rich tradition.” Limbaiah, another artisan, underlined the need to supply Poniki wood to artisans free of cost to preserve the rich art form for future generations. Steps should be taken to provide better marketing facility for Nirmal toys and paintings. It is also the responsibility of the government to ensure the welfare of artisans engaged in the craft, he said.

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