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FroggMag founders work with traditional Indian artisans to create unique games and puzzles for children

Finding age-appropriate toys and puzzles for children is no child’s play. Like many Indian parents, Shalinee Ghosh and Krishna Kumar had a tough time finding games that had a connection with India when they were shopping for their pre-schoolers. Ten years ago, under their brand name FroggMag, they launched games, jigsaw puzzles, dominoes and activity boxes that draw inspiration from Indian art and heritage.

Today, the brand has accessories, home decor, jewellery, gifts and scarves. But their USP is undoubtedly the games and puzzles they create for children, which now include an exclusive collection for the National Museum, Delhi, and the Reitberg Museum in Zurich.

Shalinee, a graduate of the National Institute of Design, began by designing travel guides. Avid travellers, both she and Krishna Kumar felt that there was a huge gap in the segment for souvenirs from India. She says, “We started making souvenirs for tourists, products that tell a story about the country and her people.”

Jigsaw puzzles and games based on Indian art and heritage  (Source: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

Beginning with fridge magnets that had motifs of the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort in addition to images of monuments in Goa, Khajuraho, and Delhi, they moved on to explore Indian art traditions and motifs in textiles such as Kalamkari and Baluchari.

Products of FroggMag, such as jigsaw puzzles and games, are based on Indian art and heritage  (Source: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

“When we found there was hardly anything for parents who wanted to help children discover India’s rich treasure trove of arts, we decided to design our own products such as jigsaw puzzles, memory games and so on based on different art traditions of India,” says Shalinee. She adds: “When we wanted to name our company, we decided to call it Froggmag because initially, our plan was to make fridge magnets. Frogs have this habit of sticking on to an object and so we combined Frogs and magnets and decided to call it FroggMag.”

The couple wanted games that engaged children in different age groups and even adults. Their jigsaw puzzles are based on Indian art traditions such as mural art, Kalighat pat, Madhubani, the tribal art of the Gonds and Bhils, Pattachitra, Warli, Thanka, Mughal miniatures, Nakashi, Pichwai and so on.

“We requested artists to create designs for us. These help children discover their artistic heritage and also finetune their motor skills. Parents can tell them about the art, the story it represents and the style of the artist,” says Shalinee.

Memory game based on Indian art (Source: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT)

There are also mix-and-match memory games. The cards feature pictures of Pattachitra animals or Varanasi wooden birds, with eight pairs to choose from in each. The range of games – designed for pre-schoolers to teenagers and adults — require participants to find pairs of cards, all of which are derived from from art traditions of India. So, if you are keen on architecture, pick one that has 36 pairs that are based on designs of Goan windows. Or else play a memory game with 36 pairs of Mughal miniature flowers.

Some jigsaw puzzles are based on Indian monuments while some interesting art forms prompted Shalinee to turn them into puzzles. “For instance, I am fascinated by the face art of Theyyam artists in Kerala. So we had their photographs taken, and had them redone as jigsaw puzzles of 63 pieces. Designed for little hands, the pieces are bigger and fewer in numbers such as two-piece and four-piece puzzles,” she explains.

The magnetic puzzles with slightly bigger pieces, featuring a Gond peacock, a Bhil butterfly or a Madhubani fish, can be assembled even on moving vehicles. “In addition to the art form, children can learn about colours, shapes and, perhaps, make their own stories about the animals,” says Shalinee.

Once you manage to put the pieces together by matching shapes and colours, with some patience and luck, a beautifully reproduced Phad or Thanka painting can be framed for your home. Or Bhil deer and elephants for your child’s room.

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