The Gokak dolls of Karnataka occupy the pride of place in the realm of traditional Indian doll making. The dolls are called so after Gokak, a village in Belgaum district where this doll making craft has a thriving presence. Besides Gokak, Kinnal and Channapatna are other major centers of the doll making craft.
The Gokak dolls are wooden toys carved out of a soft variety of wood
--- usually hariwala, polki, and hale. These bright and colorful dolls
usually take the form of fruits, vegetables, animals and birds. Skilled
artisans nurturing this 200 years old craft have mastered the art of
using natural and realistic colors in the decoration of dolls.
Gokak toys are found in over 144 variants. The ones in the form of
fruits are made as single units or in bunch- fruits are attached
together and leaves are added. While fruits like melon or pomegranate
are shown in a dissected state, grapes and bananas are usually found in
The doll making process requires a great deal of dexterity on the part
of the artisans. Earlier artisans prepared the necessary colors from
indigenous raw materials, but now readymade dye powders are usually
preferred. Craftsmen engaged in doll making in Kinnal use a thick paste
called Kitta to coat the wooden toys. The paste is prepared form rags,
sawdust and tamarind seed powder.