Coconut Shell, Fiber, Coir and Stem Craft of Kerala

Craft, Handloom, Art, Craftspersons/ Artisanal

Coconut Shell, Fiber, Coir and Stem Craft of Kerala

George, Ligi

Coconut trees grow all over Kerala, and the coconut is a fruit which is used in its entirety. Smaller coconut shell articles are also made in Trivandrum, Attingal and Neyyatinkara, while larger items are made in Quilandy in Kozhikode district in north. Every part of the ubiquitous coconut tree is effectively utilized in this region - the flesh of the coconut is eaten, its fiber spun into coir, graded and used for a huge variety of uses or burnt for fuel; the stem turned into tables, chairs, banisters, vases, incense stick holders; the husk into figures of monkeys and Buddha heads; the shell with its natural concave shape converted into a enormous number of items that include paperweights, lidded containers with brass handles, cups, bowls, ladles, spoons, snuff boxes, sugar basins, powder boxes, trays with compartments, soap dishes, hookahs etc. The tools used are the Patiyaram the steel saw and a variety of chisels. The process followed is relatively simple though skill and a sure hand are necessary. First the outer surface of the hard coconut shell is smoothened with steel wool while the inner is smoothened with the aid of small chisels and the resultant surface is sandpapered. The separate pieces to make the final product are attached with screws. The first coat of polish is boot polish, after which a final coat of French polish is given. Craftspeople ingeniously make shapes by maximizing the natural curvature of the material. Koyilandi in the district of Kozhikode is renowned for its brass bordered coconut shell hookah these were made for the Arabs who had commercial ...
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