Palm Leaf, Palmyra, Stem, Fiber craft of Kerala


A large range of products are made out of the different parts and varieties of the palm tree.  Palmyra fibers and leaves are braided in various patterns to make baskets. Mats and baskets are also woven from the stem of the date palm. While crafted all over Kerala the well known areas include Anavoor, Manvil, Neyyatinkara, Nedumangad, Perumkadavila, Parassala and SreeKariyam in Thiruvananthapuram district.

 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 natural colours and a fine texture. The baskets are traditionally constructed with vertical and diagonal plaiting or through coiling, made with a square base and a circular rim. Often they are made of two layers - the inner, woven with a coarse, natural colored ola while the outer, which is woven with colorful finer strips. The mature leaf is used to make crude baskets of little structural strength, used for packaging fish, fruit and vegetables. Naar, inner section, of the leaf stem, on the other hand, is used to make storage and shopping baskets. Although extremely strong, these baskets have little market appeal due to their mottled coloring; consequently, the naar is now dyed to give it a bright and lacquer-like appearance

Other products made include suitcases, patta / cup made by folding a section of the ola, leaf that is used to drink padneer,  the fresh juice of the palmyra fruit, boxes, bags, baskets, screens, chiks, mats, glass holders, and vases. Basket-making is practiced by the women, sieves and winnows, hand fans and square mats, boxes of all varieties and baskets in a variety of colors; dehusking trays palm leaf garlands, etc

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. The tools used are basic and include splicing machines , scissors, needles, nail frames



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