History of Crafts of Tamil Nadu
The arts and crafts of Tamil Nadu have found mention in the archives of Kautilya, Pliny and a number of scholars who were mesmerized by the soft muslin, fine silk, elaborate ivory work and precious gems like tortoise shells, diamonds, pearls and rubies that are available in abundance in the region. Lying on the zenith of ancient culture from the Pallava, Pandya and Vijayanagar dynasties, Tamil Nadu houses abundant remnants that exemplify its architectural and cultural blossoming.
The state rose to prominence for the outstanding Tanjore Paintings that flourished at the time of Chola dynasty in ancient Tanjavur. The paintings showcase embellished form of the sacred deities of the region that are festooned with glass pieces, pearls, semi-precious stones, and gold and other vibrant colors.
Papier – mache craft of Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, waste paper pulp is mixed with local clay and beaten in to a soft substance, which is then rolled in to thin malleable sheets. Life sized dolls; scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, images of Gods and Goddesses are among the many papier - mache items that are made in Tamil Nadu. After moulding the papier - mache pulp, the articles are dipped in a thin solution of paper pulp and white clay and then painted in oil or water colour.
Pottery in Tamil Nadu
In the north Arcot district in Vellore, earthenware in red and black are made. It is a traditional craft in many places of Tamil Nadu, like in Usilampatti in Madurai district where black pottery is painted with a special yellow substance. In South Arcot in Panruti, clay is used to produce small and large figures of deities, toys etc. Karigiri in south Arcot is known for exclusive style of pottery. Some noteworthy items of this type of pottery are water jugs, tea and dinner sets, ashtrays, beautifully decorated flower vases and decorative animal figures made as paperweights. Every item has a distinct structure and artistically designed. Pottery from Karukurichi in Tirunelveli district is known for technical superiority and attractive shapes. Mainly utility items are produced here. For the base, red, black and grey clay are used and it has a shinning effect only after a coating of red ochre.
Woodcraft in Tamil Nadu
Several places in Tamil Nadu are known for woodcraft. Virudunagar, Nagercoil, and Suchindram have passed the tradition of wood carving from generation to generation. Madurai is known for its carvings on rosewood items. In this type of carvings, there are bold motifs with intricate carves. The tabletops are covered with floral motifs or parrots or panels where scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are etched out.
Embroidery craft of Tamil Nadu
In the Nilgiri region the Toda women are known for rich and attractive embroidery called pugar, which means flower. Shawls called poothkuli are also embroidered with floral motifs, animal and human figures, which are worn by men in Roman style. A distinguishing style of appliqué work in Tanjore is used for decorating temples especially those adorning the carved chariots that are used in procession. The designs are mainly traditional motifs and icons of gods and goddesses.
Weaving in Tamil Nadu
Weaving is a craft, which has developed since ages. The Bhawani durries of Coimbatore district is woven in cotton and silk. On a cotton base, cotton stripes or traditional designs are woven.
Weaving sari is another form of craft of the state. The state is famous for the gorgeous Kanchipuram sarees. The Kanchipuram sarees have a long past and the weavers claim that the tradition of these sarees have descended from Sage Markanda. The pallu has a different kind of wrap and is often woven separately and attached to the body. The sarees have been given a more contemporary look by reducing the density of motifs and bringing variations in colour.
Beautiful mats are made from korai grass with cotton and silk in the weft. It is a specialty of the Pattamadai village, which is in Tirunelveli district. The colour palette is dominated by red, green and black. Today the mats have been given a more contemporary look and have a relatively large demand in the national and international market. Other products made from the korai grass are bags, runners, office folders etc.
Metal craft in Tamil Nadu
Nachairchoil in Thanjavur district is known for items in metals. A special jar with a cashew nut design is an exclusive metal ware of the place. Other items of metal wares are tumblers, water containers, food cases, bells, candle stands, kerosene lamps, picnic carriers, and a large variety of lamps in different shapes and sizes.
Basket and Fibre Crafts of Tamil Nadu
Villages of Tamil Nadu are full of Palm trees, coconut, date and Palmyra. Palm is the major source of raw material for preparing baskets and related products. Dharmapuri, Salem, Coimbatore, erstwhile South Arcot and Thiruchirapalli districts are engaged in mass production and trading Basket and Fibre Crafts. Other raw materials like bamboo, cane, grasses, fibers and reeds are also used in making baskets, thatch, ropes, mats and many other things.