In Tripura, a number of handicraft items are fabricated out of bamboo mats where bamboo splits form the weft in a cotton or rayon warp. The raw material, found in abundance in the area, are the bamboo splits sold in bundles of a thousand, the length varying from 30cm to 60cm and the price depending on the width and the length of the splits. Bamboo internodes are used for preparing the splits and it is difficult to find bamboo culms with internodes longer than 60cm. It is the outer layer of the bamboo that is used for generating the splits as the inner layer is soft and fibrous. The fine bamboo splits are mainly from the Nalchar village where the craftspersons are very skilled.
Fine strips are woven on hand-operated looms and joined with rayon threads in a patterned weave placed close together so that the entire screen takes on the texture and pliability of fabric. As a rule the bamboo mats are flexible only in the direction of the warp as the weft consists of the rigid bamboo splits. Coloured or textured warp is sometimes used for adding colour to the mat; the bamboo can also be dyed to enhance the mat.
Several varieties of mats are used in house construction while others are used as floor coverings, for sleeping, as surfaces for drying and processing grains, as door and window screens, and as room partitions. Mats and mat articles like 'chatais' are very popular. Bamboo matting is sold by itself, the price depending on the fineness of the bamboo splits, the width of the mat, and the number of warp threads used. The products come in a variety of colours and designs and are used for interior decoration as well as for making wall hangings, flower sticks, table mats, and tray mats.
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