Sunday, January 17, 2016

Colourful Kottan Baskets from Chettinadu in TamilNadu, India

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Article on Chettinadu Kottan Baskets underneath the pictures

Kottan - Palm Leaf Basketry of Chettinadu in Tamilnadu

Kottan baskets are traditional hand woven baskets made in Chettinadu in South India. The craft is almost extinct except for certain organizations working to preserve the beautiful craft. Kottan baskets are made from Palmyra leaves, and were traditionally made by the Aachis of Chettinadu. The 'Aachis' of Chettinad used to make varieties of baskets out of tender palmyra leaves and leaf stems.Palmyra leaves are dried and cut into thin strips. These strips are then dyed in brilliant colours and dried again. The strips are used to weave the base of the basket. 

Kottan products were awarded the UNESCO SEAL for excellence  in 2004. 

Palm leaf Basketry is one of the well-known crafts of Tamil Nadu in India & is the major source of income for the local rural communities. Palm leaf baskets are made of very intricate captivating designs . These products are mainly used for daily activities. The palm leaf basketry is locally called "Kottan" in Tamil Nadu. The local skilled artisans are developing new varieties of designs these days to fulfill the taste of local people and market.

The Kottan baskets had wide and varied uses in day to day life in TamilNadu, most importantly during marriages. 

Mostly women artisans are engaged in making these baskets in traditional way in Chettinadu. The pliable, tender Palmyra leaf has good structural strength & is used to make varieties of decorative baskets. 

Palm leaf basket making is a craft practiced since several generations and has been a culture and tradition in Chettinadu. The tools and raw materials used for making these products are easily available in the local market. Palm trees are abundantly available in the local Karaikudi as well as nearby villages. Artisans use long knives to harvest the leaves and small sized knives to separate the mid rib from the leaves. The strips are dyed with vibrant colors to make the products very attractive. 

Varieties of beautiful products are made using the palm leaf, like for example baskets, fruit baskets, mats, pen stands, flower vases gift boxes etc. The baskets are used as storage containers as well as decorative items.

Earlier, Kottan baskets were mainly used during marriages for packaging gifts and as containers for gifts at family functions and rituals.

The beautiful craft is being revived once again with amazingly beautiful designs and many popular articles of modern utlity are now being made.

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