When the Killimangalam Pulpaya problem, aimed toward discovering clients for historically woven grass mats, started trending on social media, it fuelled a motion to avoid wasting the heritage craft

When the Killimangalam Pulpaya problem, aimed toward discovering clients for historically woven grass mats, started trending on social media, it fuelled a motion to avoid wasting the heritage craft

In the primary week of June, 2022, the Killimangalam Pulpaya, a standard straw mat indigenous to Killimangalam in Thrissur district in Kerala, started trending on social media. People from Kerala and past started inserting orders. A ‘pulpaya problem’, which urged folks to purchase not less than one straw mat by numerous social media platforms, has sparked a brisk sale of mats that have been mendacity unsold on the Killimangalam Pulpaya Neythu Cooperative Society, one of many solely centres weaving grass mats in Kerala. Two weeks for the reason that problem was introduced, the ladies making the mats have their arms full. Mats value ₹4 lakh have already been bought.

A bit of away from the banks of the Bharathapuzha, the place the society has its workplace, the weavers (4 ladies) led by the secretary of the society Sudhakran N C, are pleased that their efforts are actually bearing fruit. The society had been promoting its mats primarily by exhibitions and some handicraft collectives, however for the reason that 2018 Kerala flood, gross sales nosedived. The COVID-19 outbreak worsened the scenario, and so they had unsold mats value about ₹5 lakh. 

A heritage craft

The straw mat weaving was historically practised by the Kurava neighborhood, who inhabited the banks of the Bharathapuzha. Over the years, because the youthful members of the neighborhood drifted in the direction of extra profitable jobs, and plastic mats turned an accepted various, the weaving custom was pushed to the brink of extinction. However, the co-operative society, registered in 1953, has been striving to maintain the heritage craft alive.

In order to assist the weavers regain the market, Vayali, a folklore collective primarily based in Thrissur together with the Alternative Learning School of Moozhikulam Sala, an natural campus that follows a standard way of life primarily based in Chalakkudy, launched the Pulpaya problem, which can run by June. 

“The banks of the Nila (Bharathapuzha) had two such societies engaged in kora grass mat weaving — Vaniyamkulam and Killimangalam. Today, the Killimangalam Society is the one unit that makes these mats, functioning with 5 lively members,” says Vinod Nambiar, govt director of Vayali. The mats received a UNESCO recognition, the ‘Seal of Excellence’ in 2006. In 2016, Vayali produced a documentary movie on P Prabhavathi, a weaver, who labored with the society for 41 years, single-handedly main it when it virtually closed down. Prabhavati stopped weaving following a short sickness in 2018.

“The concept is to protect the essence of people artwork and assist the artisans get what is because of them. We are exploring the chances of making use of for a Geographical Indications (GI) tag and are in talks with the Directorate of Handicrafts, Thrissur, to incorporate this craft within the ‘Vanishing Traditions’ class,” says Vinod. “We are additionally contemplating inviting designers and different companies who work on this area to doc the distinctive designs of Killimangalam and the processing methodology they observe,” he provides.

Though the designs of the mats stay the identical, the processes have undergone sure modifications, says Sudhakaran. While contemporary Kora grass (known as muthanga pullu in Malayalam) was collected from the banks of the Bharathapuzha within the earlier days, it’s now purchased in straw type from Chittoor, Palakkad district, for ₹ 350 a kilo. “A comparatively easy mat in customary measurement (34 inches x 72 inches) can take as much as one week. If the design is complicated, it might take a weaver as much as 15 days,” says Sudhakaran. The weavers are paid ₹ 150 a day. 

Done by hand

One of the weavers  at the society

One of the weavers on the society
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the weaving is completed on conventional looms, the designs are achieved by hand. Though the present crop of weavers don’t belong to the Kurava neighborhood, they nonetheless observe the unique design patterns set by the Kuravas. “Some designs are time consuming. Even a small flower design can take as much as half an hour,” says Sindhu M S, one of many weavers. “Our work begins with processing — soaking the straw, drying it, dyeing it (dye is purchased from Alappuzha). Weaving takes place after that. The work wants a number of endurance, however this can be very satisfying,” she says. 

Table mats

Table mats
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Apart from common ground mats, the staff makes yoga mats, desk runners, prayer mats, desk mats, wall decor and kalyana paya (marriage ceremony mats). The kalyana paya is presented by some communities to the bride and groom on their marriage ceremony day, with their names and the date of the marriage woven into the mat. “We take orders for marriage ceremony mats forward, as a result of weaving names and dates is time consuming,” says Sindhu.” The value of the mats begin from Rs 1,800 and goes as much as 5,000 or extra relying on the dimensions and the design. 

Killimangalam straw mats

Killimangalam straw mats
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Our effort is to deliver these artisans and their craft to the mainstream,” says T R Premkumar, director of Moozhikulam Sala. “The weavers are within the job not only for the cash, but additionally as a result of they take pleasure in carrying on a heritage craft. We have to make most people and coverage makers conscious of their work,” he provides.

Orders for the mat will be positioned on 9961608084/ 9947847279

The weavers would deliver the mats to ‘Njattuvela Festival’ from June 30 to July 6 at Changampuzha Park, Edappally. A GI (Geographical Indications) tag workshop will likely be organised on the venue. It will likely be dealt with by C R Elsy, former head of the IPR Cell of the Kerala Agricultural University. 

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