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The Hand Made Crafts of Tamil Nadu

Updated on September 8, 2014

The Handi-craft - Man's first Technology

Handicraft is the technology of the hand. A craft at its best represents man's need to create all together with mind and hand.

A fine object is planned not only to be aesthetically pleasing; it is basically a skilled explanation as well to a specific need. Tamil Nadu's handicrafts are more or less unlimited, in variety they are infinite.

In Tamil Nadu, numerous local village and country traditions have survived through the course of altering history, giving and taking among them.

Hand Made - Lace work

Handicrafts in Tamil Nadu

Handicrafts in Tamil Nadu were, in a way, cherished as an important part of our rich cultural heritage.

Now though this sentiment continues to be rekindled, there is a pronounced change in the general attitude towards crafts, which is completely upsetting our basic sense of human values.

For, though handicrafts helped to fulfill a positive physical need in the daily lives of the people, they also served to satisfy the aesthetic hunger in man and provided a vehicle for his urge for self-expression, which revealed itself in a conscious aesthetic approach. The inspiration has come from the tender core of the substance of everyday life and nature's own rich store-house.

These significant and meaningful facts are being rapidly forgotten. To-day handicrafts are becoming just commodities for sale, not the essentials of elegant living. Handicrafts of Tamil Nadu are available it several materials and forms.

The Famous Tanjore Paintings

Radha Krishna (Framed) - Tanjore Painting - Traditional Colors with 24 Karat Gold
Radha Krishna (Framed) - Tanjore Painting - Traditional Colors with 24 Karat Gold

Tanjore paintings are, in fact, panel paintings. Though rooted in culture, the art form is having a faculty for its novelty, although within ends. Rich colors, shine of gold, semi-precious gems and beautiful workmanship are some of its features. Many Tanjore paintings keep the baby Krishna, occupied in different pranks, he is known and admired. Portraits of different divinities were also in high favor. At The Beginning decorating temples and royal residences, they eventually attained their way to most well to do Hindu houses in India. In recent times, they have evolved into collector's pieces that are much go in search after as relics during festive occurrences in South India, and are frequently put to use to dress up the walls of living quarters.


Hand made Jewellery

Hand Made Jewellery
Hand Made Jewellery

Photo Courtesy: Photobucket

Traditional Tamil Nadu jewellery shows Indian craftsmanship at its best. Madurai, Thanjavur, Ramanathapuram and Coimbatore produce an innumerable variety of ornaments in gold. Necklaces and bracelets made in Thuraiyur near Trichy are attractive and popular as is jewellery made of semi-precious stones with enamelling.


In Karigiri a small village near Chennai, a dozen potter families are occupied in producing glazed artistic pottery, with conventional Persian designs. The major raw material used is a type of clay known as namakatti.

Chemically, this is a kind of low-fusing China clay; the material is so soft and elastic that highly complex designs in various shapes can be easily thrown on the potter' wheel, with beautiful cut-out or incised designs.

Low-fired glazes in emerald green, deep blue and gold are commonly used. Apart from decorative vases, a variety of attractive utilitarian objects like water jugs, ink-stands and ash trays in traditional and modern forms are also made.

Pottery for Sale
Pottery for Sale

Clay and Paper Toys and Dolls

Tamil Nadu has a great tradition of toys and dolls which also figure in ceremonies, festivals and auspicious occasions. At Dasara, for instance, dolls are arranged on the altar of worship even if there were no image of Durga. The largest variety is in clay.

Dummy horses, bulls and sometimes even human figures in various sizes-from small to larger-than-life size are made in clay by village potters. These are kept at the village entrance as gramma devates (guardian deities of the village). Aiyanar figures are reported to be found in the village sanctuaries located at Chettampatti and Nallur (Trichy), Tirupuanam ( Madurai) and vaduga palayam (Coimbatore).

In the traditional types many paper toys too are found. These are largely either mobile or oscillating, both folk in concept and abstract in execution. Thanjavur was once reputed for its elegant and excellent oscillating paper toys. They are now found more in the neighboring centers of Kumbakonam and Myladuthurai.

Art Metal Ware

The artistic metal ware of Tamil Nadu includes wax-molded Kuthu Vilakku (metal lamps), silver and copper encrusted brass sheet work and bronze sculpture. The production of bronze or copper icons by the cire perdue (lost wax) process is concentrated mainly in the Swamimalai area of Thanjavur, though the craft also exists in Kumbakonam, Tambaram, Madurai, Nachiar Koil and a few other places.

Craftsmen usually manufacture the icons against orders from temples. Stylistically the images belong to different periods like the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandya and Nayaka periods, and images which are now produced belong to one of these styles. Sometimes the order specifies particulars of design but very often these are left to the craftsman's deiscretion.

Copies of old masterpieces are also being cast, for sale, under the direct supervision of traditional master craftsmen.

Hand Made Mat - Pattamadai Pai

Hand Made Pathamadai Mat
Hand Made Pathamadai Mat

Pattamadai pai (Tamil for mat) is made of dried sedge (type of plant very similar to grass) that grows along the bank of Tamraparni river in that area. The community that make the mats are predominantly muslim and have been in that region for a long time.

Traditionally women weave these mats in hand looms and depending on the length or fineness one mat can take up to couple of months. This is the only place where they make the silk mat (pattu pai) with very fine grass bunch and silk threads.

Those mats are painstakingly weaved over a long time mainly for weddings. I have made friends with the local crafts persons to go see how they make them from the collection of raw materials to finished products.

There are few individuals that sale their crafts directly to public. There is also a cooperative and a store at the bus stop of Pattamadai village where you can buy.

Photo & Description Courtesy: Kaberi Kar Gupta under creative commons.license.

Tamil Nadu Handicrafts (Poompuhar) Exhibition - Vid

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    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Nice lens! Now, I know more about your culture. - Ms. Charito from the Philippines

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      All those handcrafts are simply beautiful.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      Oh very beautiful!!!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Everything is so lovely. My niece once brought back a necklace from India when she was on a mission trip. I still have it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Awesome handicrafts!

    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 5 years ago

      These are lovely handicrafts.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Beautiful handcrafts. I particularly like the gorgeous necklace. Wish I had one.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 5 years ago

      Handcraft is the oldest design by man, hence the usage is also now coming down..

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Beautiful hand crafted items. I love the traditional dress with the long flowing robes and hand crafted jewelry items. It is so very beautiful.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      A lot of beautiful handcraft here. It certainly tells a lot about the imagination, creativity and skill of people of Tamil Nadu. Thanks!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Thanks for showing me some really awesome handcrafts, I thing they're all amazing, especially the mat.

    • profile image

      FashionMommy 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading about and looking at the lovely handicrafts of Tamil Nadu

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was here just over a year ago and am revisiting to once again enjoy the hand made crafts of Tamil Nadu, what amazing artisans in your land!

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 5 years ago

      Lovely works of art. I love the jewelry.

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 5 years ago

      These handicrafts are amazing. Great lens on these marvelous works.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 6 years ago

      Beautiful crafts, especially the jewelry - so intricate!

    • ColorPetGifts profile image

      ColorPetGifts 6 years ago

      Very lovely pottery and weaving hand made crafts. Thank-you.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Some of the jewellery and pottery are amazing, very detailed. I love hand made items, so much nicer than machine made. Excellent lens to showcase these talents, blessed.

    • profile image

      mockingbird999 6 years ago

      The hand made jewelry is beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love handmade and there is some incredible art work created in India, thanks for sharing this lens with us :)

    • profile image

      celeBritys4africA 6 years ago

      I love the hand made crafts. Amazing!

    • profile image

      Megan009 6 years ago

      wow great lens..This is what love to make.Can you please check it out my product decorative vases.Thanks

    • profile image

      miaponzo 6 years ago

      Nice local crafts!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The beauty of Tamul Nadu is extended in every direction in the hand made made crafts.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      Each day I visit and learn more about Tamil Nadu. Thank you for putting this information together.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      Beautiful! April Fool's blessings today, and featured on Blessed by Tandemonimom!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      So proud to visit all of your Tamil Nadu lenses .. my friend. They're all wonderful with beautiful details and writing. 5 stars for you. Have wonderful times ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      With all the world going high tech, we still love our old handicrafts, pottery and hand made designs. The pictures become lively with the theme of lens and they tell the story of our beautiful culture and art. Stunning lens with stunning pictures portraying the effect to the fullest.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      This is such a beautiful page. Better late than never.... I finally compiled my SquidAngel Lens from my 'angel flight' last Fall. :-) So.... returning to tell you that this lens has now been 'featured on' and 'lensrolled to' "SquidAngel Blessings by an Elf".

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 7 years ago

      Beautiful hand-made products

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 7 years ago

      What a beautiful tribute to the handicrafts of Tamil Nadu. Such an important reminder that these are not just commodities for sale but "essential for elegant living." Beautiful!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Hello Basha. This is another beautiful lens and I love learning about your part of the world.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      The examples you have shown are gorgeous! Thank you for the background information. Very interesting indeed.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 7 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      the Hand Made Mat are my favorite, looks very unique!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

      Really lovely and great information. Being a working artist I can appreciate the craftmanship and skill that went into these items.

    • Jhangora LM profile image

      Jhangora LM 7 years ago

      Really love handicrafts. Did a short term course in Export Management years back and wanted to export costume and artificial jewelry. Didn't have the funds. Nice to know about handicrafts from Tamil nadu.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Wonderful descriptions of the handicrafts created in your part of our world. What a lovely part of the history & culture of Tamil Nadu you've shared here. I believe the creating and passing down through generations of handmade items keeps these traditions alive for everyone. ~~SquidAngel Blessed~~

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      Nice history of handcrafts from your home country. I would especially go for anything pottery :)

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 9 years ago

      Very nice lens. I've always been most attracted by hand made items and love the designs which show elements of Persian influence. It's fascinating to trace the journey of various styles and patterns around the world. 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust for you

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      I'm always fascinated by handcrafts! Great lens.