(Last Updated on : 01/01/2009)
The handicrafts of Kerala are well known for their unique style, perfection of form and elegance of design. This is an integral part of the life stream of culture of Kerala. The raw materials are used very skillfully by the craftsmen of Kerala without sacrificing the requirements of aesthetics.
Kerala is also famous for its carvings, cast bell metal work, jewellery, granite idols, pillars, coir, coconut shell products, carvings in wood, especially rosewood or sandalwood, snake boat models and other figurines. Drums like the chanda, maddalam, mridangam and edakka are carved out of single piece logs. The handicrafts of Kerala include the accessories for Kathakali dance and other popular dance forms, which are made out of wood or papier-mâché.
Another beautiful tradition of Kerala handicrafts is the making of ivory, bamboo, palm leaves, seashells, coconut shells, clay, cloth, stone, etc. Now, the traces of these handicrafts of Kerala can be seen in palaces, old heritage homes, museums, etc. The craftsman of Kerala are skilled in preparing beautiful flower vases, ash trays, ornamental plates, jewel boxes, miniature boats, elephants, idols, Kathakali masks and embroidery works etc.
The craftsmen of Kerala prepare several images of gods and goddesses with bell metal casting. The bell metal industry of Kerala is popular for the Aranmula metal mirror. This mirror is made of an alloy, which consists of 10 parts of copper and 5.50 parts of tin. The shape of this mirror is oval. A standard mirror measures about 6 inches in length and .50 inch thick and has a handle by which it is to be held. The art of preparing this Aranmula metal mirror is kept it almost as the family secret for several years by the artisans.
Some other important handicrafts of Kerala include the Koftgari works, marquetry in wood, ivory and buffalo horn carving, screw pine mat making, bamboo reed weaving, palmyra leaf weaving, kora grass mat making, rattan or cane work. The embroidery and lace making, lapidary work, granite carving, lacquer work, cotton map making, toys and dolls, jewellery, are also some of the valuable handicraft making activities of Kerala. In Kerala, the handicrafts have evolved into a small-scale industry. Right now, there are many institutes in Kerala, which impart training in handicrafts. These institutes help the craftsmen in making the handicraft items, selling them in domestic markets and also in exporting them.