Etikoppaka Wood & Lacquer Ware
The Pleasure of Colours
The name "Etikoppaka" brings to mind the beautiful lacquer finished wooden artifacts. It is an age old skill specific to the village Koppaka on the Eru (River Varaha).The artifacts are named after the village they are produced in and are called Etikoppaka products. Etikoppaka is a small village with a population of around 12,000, situated at a distance of about 65 km South of Visakhapatnam in the district of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, India. While the main occupation of the people of Etikoppaka is farming, more than 200 people of the village are artisans. Their livelihood revolves round manufacturing of toys, artifacts, curios and novelties from wood and lacquer such as candle stands to vermilion boxes; ear rings bangles, toys, mythological figures and carvings.
These artifacts are made of wood and coloured with natural dyes harvested from roots, leaves, fruit, seeds, bark and lacquer. The wood generally used is soft (Wrightia tinctoria) and has a very fine grain. Women and children gather the wood from nearby hills of the Eastern Ghats and leave it to dry in their courtyards for seasoning. This being a cottage industry, each artisan works in his own little hut, still using the primitive tools that his forefathers had used. These magnificently coloured articles are nontoxic and environment friendly. They are rich in colour and are a feast to the eyes. No synthetic dyes or material are used in these products in any form thus making them safe even for babies.
The process of making these wooden handicrafts is known as Turned Wood Lacquer Craft; or ‘Tharini’. Lac is a colourless resinous secretion of a number of species of insects. Thousands of these tiny insects colonize branches of suitable host trees, secrete a resinous material and go into a pupa stage. Once the insect matures into an adult it flees. What remains on the host tree is collected. This is called the stick lack. After cleaning vegetable dyes are introduced to the lac through the process of oxidation. The end product of this process is the richly coloured lacquer.
The use of lac dye goes back to ancient times. It has been used in India as a skin cosmetic and a dye used in the woolen and silk industry. In Chinese tradition it was used for dyeing leather goods.
The Fine Arts Department of Andhra University, the National Institute of Design, Crafts Council of India and even the National Institute of Fashion Technology were involved in the design and development of new designs and products of this cottage industry. In 2006 United nations has confered the UNESCO- CCI Seal /Award of excellence for Handicrafts to the company.