Cane and Bamboo Craft of Kerala

Cane, Bamboo

Cane and Bamboo Craft of Kerala

The history of the bamboo reed industry of Kerala may be traced to the 14th century when the Arab traveler, Ibn Batuta, recorded the use of bamboo mats as sails on the Chinese ships at Kozhikode.

This most utilitarian yet critical craft of weaving reed baskets and mats is practiced across Kerala though the largest concentration of craftspeople is in Angamally, Thiruvananthapuram, Dedunganda, Aryanad in Ernakulam district and in Malapuram. Other areas of production include Kodali in Thrissur district; Nileswaram and Malapura.

The basketry of Kerala is largely made by the Christian communities of Ernakulam and Thrissur. Traditionally, however, it was the Parayas and Kaatakaras (literally, forest people) of Anapandan, a hillside near Thrissur who undertook the making of cane and bamboo baskets using plain, twill and occasionally the hexagonal weave. A  large range of painted and woven mats that are crafted are in great demand all over India. The main centre for this craft is Irinjalakuda.

The thick bamboo locally known as mula and the thinner bamboo called eeta are made into rough bamboo mats used as wall partitions and softer grass mats to sleep on. Kotta or rough work baskets with short handles are often reinforced with coir; vatti or neatly woven square baskets made with slim bamboo splits are used for shopping, storage as well as a makeshift vessel. The products are usually daubed over or smoked. A wide variety of decorative baskets and shopping bags, bamboo-reed table mats, and other articles are crafted with the craftspeople producing the reed baskets and mats for a wide range of uses suitable to farming, fishing and other activities and requirements of the villages from mats for drying grain, peppercorns, coconut kernels and fish; baskets for vegetable and fish  vendors to carry their wares to the local market; muram the winnowing basket for separating chaff; baskets for storing grain; as table mats, wall hangings, table top products like fruit baskets etc. The bamboo mats often serving as partitions and screens in hotels, shops and homes in rural Kerala. Beautifully proportioned bamboo boxes in a combination of black and white twill design worked in bands are also a popular item

Cane, a climbing palm with long, thin, solid, joined stems, grows to a great height, climbing over the highest trees to 500 or 600 feet. The stems are dried after their green sheath is removed and dried. Cane is extremely strong and when twisted together can be used as cables or cords. Cane is mainly made into furniture, baskets, tiffin carriers, and fans


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