Express news service
KADAPA: The Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala is now the beacon of hope for woodcarvers in the villages of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripalle in Kadapa district. The emporium constructed a new building for the woodcarving and toy-making workshop in Lakshmigaripalle and installed modern machinery to help the artisans practice their craft. All of these facilities were provided at a cost of 1 crore. The new workshop should be inaugurated soon.
Over the past 100 years, around 300 families from the villages of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripalle, about 110 km from the Kadapa district headquarters, in Railway Koduru mandal, make a living by carving wooden objects and toys, especially logs. of red sand and teak. .
Their craft, which is passed down from generation to generation, has earned them worldwide recognition and their products are still in demand in local and international markets. Former US President Bill Clinton purchased a wooden statue of Shakuntala made by woodcarvers Kadapa during his visit to Hyderabad.
Finished products are available in Tirupati, Tirumala, Srikalahasti and Srisailam. The Raja Rani idols made by these artisans are the most sought after. They are offered as wedding gifts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, as it is believed that giving them will lead to early conception!
According to K Subbarayudu Achari, owner of the Sri Lakshmi Venkateswara Wood Carvers Association since 1993, obtaining wood, the main raw material, has become a problem over the past 10 years. “Previously, we used to get wood, especially teak, neem, mango, necessary for our forest crafts, but with the increasing restrictions imposed by the forestry department due to the smuggling of red sanders, getting wood has become difficult, âhe explained.
As an alternative, woodcarvers began to source wood from farmers. âToday, while the availability of wood has decreased, the work has decreased. With no other option available, people began to migrate to other places in search of work. Some went to Tirupati, Bengaluru and others and others to the Gulf countries, âSubbarayudu said.
Conscious of the plight of woodcarvers, AP Handicrafts‘ Development Society, the parent organization of Lepakshi Emporium, on instructions from the state government, established woodworking and wood-making workshops two years ago. toys.
âIn a 30 cent plot, the workshops have been built at a cost of 55 lakh and the latest machines such as the cutter, finisher and driller are being installed. These machines will not only help artisans create better products, but will also improve quality and quantity, âsaid Devender, director of Lepakshi Emporium in Tirumala. âWe are doing everything we can to improve the livelihoods of the woodcarvers of Settigunta and Lakshmigaripale,â he added.