The Hand Made Crafts of Tamil Nadu
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
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
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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.
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
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.