Etikoppaka (YAE-TI-KOPPAAKA) is a village in Andhra Pradesh renowned for its lacquer-finished woodcraft. Watching a craftsperson create an etikoppaka product is like watching a potter bringing a pot to life, only the wheel in this case is a lathe that spins vertically. A piece of wood is affixed to the lathe and the craftsperson does the entire shaping, hollowing and colouring of the product while the wood is being turned. Lead-free natural dyes are used, in colours like ochre, green, purple, red and maroon. Some cracks in the product are normal, since the products are made of very soft wood. The products available today are toys (like toy trains, rattles, tops), junk jewellery (earrings and bangles) and home products (like candlestands, vermillion boxes, windchimes, keychains and decorative figurines). Etikoppaka decoratives feature prominently in festive displays in South Indian homes during the annual Navaratri festival. A similar industry exists in Channapatna, Karnataka, but the wood used for the products is different.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's October 2012 Issue.