Bengaluru: Karnataka to gift Obama Channapatna toys

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Bengaluru, Jan 19 (IANS) US President Barrack Obama will receive Karnataka’s famous Channapatna toys as a special gift from the state government on the Republic Day in New Delhi, a senior official said Monday.

“The state government is gifting Obama a few Channapatna toys through the external affairs ministry on the Republic Day as a token of our affection to him and his family,” state information department director N.R. Vishukumar told IANS here.

Obama, who is visiting India for the second time from Jan 24, will be the chief guest at the national parade Jan 26.

Crafted by skilled men and women artisans of Channapatna town in Ramanagara district, about 60 km from here, the traditional toys and dolls made of special wood in colours are protected as a geographical indication (GI) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Though the state government wants to present the toys to Obama directly through its representative, in view of the tight security and for protocol reasons, they will be given to him through the external affairs ministry after the Republic Day parade.

“We are also gifting Obama an official calendar depicting the art of making these toys by Channapatna artisans. He will get to see some of the popular toys and dolls displayed on our state tableau participating in the Republic Day Parade,” Vishukumar said.

The artisans use ivory wood of a special tree grown in the old Mysore region of the state for making the toys and dolls, which are also exported worldwide.

“Our tableau, with the Channapatna toys as its theme, will have 30 giant-sized toys, including an abacus, a girl astride a horse, swan and an engine that were made by the local artisans in the toy town,” Vishukumar added.

The origins of Channapatna toys dates back to the reign of Tipu Sultan in the 18th century when he invited artisans from Persia to train the locals in making toys using ivory wood, rose wood and sandal wood.

During Obama’s first visit to India in November 2010, his wife, US First Lady Michelle bought a few Channapatna’s colourful toys worth Rs.2,000 ($25 then) at the National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum in New Delhi.

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