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Varanasi Lacquerware Toys

October 18, 2010

In addition to its holy waters and silk saris, Varanasi is also known for its hand-painted wooden toys.  These wooden toys are sculpted and chiseled by artisans, and then attractively painted with bright lacquer colors.  This industry is believed to have a 400-year history in the city!

While I was in Varanasi, I picked up a set of ten small deities made in this style.  Each deity is about two inches tall, and is depicted traveling on his or her vahana, or vehicle.  The whole set has fantastic color and detail, and all of the deities come with hooks attached, so that they can be hung from a car’s rear view mirror!

Four of the Ten Deities - Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, and Ganesh



4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2010 4:31 am

    OH MY GOODNESS! These are so adorable and colorful. I’m jealous. My fiance went to school in Varanasi and he didn’t really know about these toys when I asked him but it was probably the last thing he paid attention to when he was there for college, so I’m not super surprised. 😉 Where did you get these? Were they all over? And about how much a piece were they? I think these would be great presents for people back home as well as just in general.

    • October 29, 2010 11:12 am

      On Asi Ghat, which tends to be one of the more touristy areas, there were several handicrafts stores selling these. They had many other options, too, included a painted cow and a yellow and green autorickshaw! And for how touristy the shops and area were, the markup didn’t seem to be too bad. I paid rs. 500 for this set of ten small deities.

      • October 30, 2010 1:45 am

        Oooh. Thanks for the info. It will definitely go on my list of things to do and get from Varanasi when I finally manage to get there. The cow and rickshaw sound adorable! And the price seems reasonable also. Did you get any silver when you were there? I heard that Varanasi is famous for their silver. Many of my friends got silver anklets from their trip there, which I missed b/c of a monsoon storm hitting Delhi. However, missing my train is the one reason why I met the love of my life, so I’m definitely not complaining. I’ll get there someday. 🙂

      • November 1, 2010 8:42 pm

        I actually didn’t pick up any silver while I was there. Too busy sari shopping, I suppose. 🙂

        And as far as reasons for missing your train and consequential outcomes – that story doesn’t seem like a bad one at all.

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