Palm Leaf, Stem, Fibre

Palm Leaf, Stem, Fibre

Several products are made out of the different parts of the palm tree. Palmyra fibres and leaves are braided in various patterns to make baskets. Mats and baskets are also woven from the stem of the date palm. These mats are of the coarse variety with counts ranging from 16 to 26 and are made in the districts of North and South Arcot, Salem, Thiruchirapalli, and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Manapad, a sandy village in Tirunelveli district is famous for its palm-leaf products. Here the tender palm leaves are separated from the strips and joined together by winding a running strip over them. This is then folded like a ribbon and fastened by a thin strip of leaf to connect the layers at intervals, thus yielding a uniform and rhythmic pattern with soft colours and a fine texture. The products made include suitcases, boxes, bags, baskets, screens, chiks, mats, glass holders, and vases. Basket-making is practised by the women of the area. Chittarkottai in Ramanathapuram district specialises in hats and bags; here a leaf strip is used to fasten the erks as the erks are thought to make the article more durable. Ramanathapuram is also known for its beautiful sieves and winnows, while Daripatnam specialises in hand fans and square mats. Rameshwaram is known for its square boxes --- decorative, with raised patterns, and commonly used as trinket boxes. In the Ramanathapuram district, a community of women weave baskets in a variety of colours with abstract animals, birds, and geometric designs displayed on them. A colourfully dyed palm-leaf moram or dehusking tray is made at Tirunelveli. The palm-leaf baskets of Chettinad are famous for the square effect of their weave. Betel nut cases are made of a mixture of palm leaf and metal. The articles from palm leaf made at Nagore include bags, dinner cases, and ornamental folding fans. Here the tender palm leaves have their ribs removed and are then dried in the sun. The upper end is smoothly rounded off and the lower end has a flat edge. A 10 inch fan has 56 blades and an 8 inch fan has 37 blades. The blades are uniformly cut with an iron die. The handles are purple and made by splicing bamboo it into narrow strips. The blades are tied together by copper wire through holes on them and sewn together to spread out as a fan. The sewing has to be done in such a way so that the stitching is not visible. Floral motifs are painted on the blades, thus giving the fan an attractive appearance. Palm-leaf and -stem weaving is a thriving craft in southern Kerala also. Previously only mats for local consumption were being woven; nowadays bags, hats, and suitcases are made both for the Indian and foreign markets.

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