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Ray of sunshine for Kadapa wood carvers 

A new building to house wood carving and toy making workshop has been set up at a cost of  `1 crore to help local artisans

Published: 20th June 2021 07:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2021 07:28 AM   |  A+A-

An artisan working on an artefact at the toy making workshop set up Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala. (Photo | Express)

An artisan working on an artefact at the toy making workshop set up Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

KADAPA:  Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala is now the beacon of hope for woodcarvers of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripalle villages in Kadapa district. The emporium has constructed a new building for wood carving and toy making workshop in Lakshmigaripalle and has installed modern machinery to help the artisans play their craft. All these facilities have been provided at a cost of `1 crore. The new workshop is expected to be inaugurated shortly. 

For the past 100 years, around 300 families of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripalle villages, about 110 km away from the district headquarters in Kadapa, in Railway Koduru mandal have been making a living by carving artefacts and toys out of wood, especially red sanders logs and teak. 

Their craft, which is passed from one generation to the other, have earned them global recognition and their products are still in demand in local and international markets. Former US President Bill Clinton had purchased a wooden statue of Shakuntala made by the Kadapa woodcarvers during his visit to Hyderabad.  

The finished products are available in Tirupati, Tirumala, Srikalahasti and Srisailam. Raja Rani idols made by these artisans are the most sought after. They are given as wedding gifts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as it is believed that gifting them will lead to early conception!

According to K Subbarayudu Achari, proprietor of the   Sri Lakshmi Venkateswara Woodcarvers’ Association since 1993, getting wood, the main raw material, has become a problem in the past 10 years. “Earlier, we used to get wood, including teak, neem, mango, needed for our craft from the forest, but with increasing restrictions imposed by the forest department owing to red sanders smuggling, getting wood has become difficult,” he explained. 

As an alternative, the woodcarvers have started procuring wood from the farmers. “Today, as the availability of wood has come down, work has decreased. With no other option available, people have started migrating to other places in search of work. Some went to Tirupati, Bengaluru and the like and some more went to the Gulf countries,” Subbarayudu said. 

Taking cognisance of the plight of the wood carvers, AP Handicrafts’ Development Society, the parent body of Lepakshi Emporium, on the State government’s directions, has set up woodcraft and toy making workshops two years ago. 

“In a 30 cents land, the workshops were constructed at a cost of `55 lakh and the latest machinery such as cutter, finisher and driller are being installed. This machinery will not only help the artisans in creating better products, but also improve quality as well as quantity,” Devender, manager of Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala, said. “We are making every effort to improve the livelihood of the wood carvers of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripale,” he added.



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