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

Within the first week of June, 2022, the Killimangalam Pulpaya, a standard straw mat indigenous to Killimangalam in Thrissur district in Kerala, started trending on social media. Folks from Kerala and past started inserting orders. A ‘pulpaya problem’, which urged individuals to purchase at the least one straw mat by means of varied social media platforms, has sparked a brisk sale of mats that had been mendacity unsold on the Killimangalam Pulpaya Neythu Cooperative Society, one of many solely centres weaving grass mats in Kerala. Two weeks because the problem was introduced, the ladies making the mats have their palms full. Mats value ₹4 lakh have already been bought.

A bit away from the banks of the Bharathapuzha, the place the society has its workplace, the weavers (4 girls) led by the secretary of the society Sudhakran N C, are completely happy that their efforts at the moment are bearing fruit. The society had been promoting its mats primarily by means of exhibitions and some handicraft collectives, however because the 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 group, who inhabited the banks of the Bharathapuzha. Over time, because the youthful members of the group drifted in direction of extra profitable jobs, and plastic mats turned an accepted different, the weaving custom was pushed to the brink of extinction. Nonetheless, the co-operative society, registered in 1953, has been striving to maintain the heritage craft alive.

So as to assist the weavers regain the market, Vayali, a folklore collective primarily based in Thrissur together with the Various Studying Faculty 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 means of June. 

“The banks of the Nila (Bharathapuzha) had two such societies engaged in kora grass mat weaving — Vaniyamkulam and Killimangalam. Right now, the Killimangalam Society is the one unit that makes these mats, functioning with 5 energetic members,” says Vinod Nambiar, government director of Vayali. The mats gained 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’re 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’re additionally contemplating inviting designers and different businesses who work on this house to doc the distinctive designs of Killimangalam and the processing methodology they observe,” he provides.

Although the designs of the mats stay the identical, the processes have undergone sure modifications, says Sudhakaran. Whereas recent Kora grass (referred to 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 dimension (34 inches x 72 inches) can take as much as one week. If the design is advanced, it may take a weaver as much as 15 days,” says Sudhakaran. The weavers are paid ₹ 150 a day. 

Accomplished by hand

One of the weavers  at the society

One of many weavers on the society
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

Whereas the weaving is finished on conventional looms, the designs are completed by hand. Although the present crop of weavers don’t belong to the Kurava group, 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

Desk mats
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

Aside from common flooring 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 worth 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
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

“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 Pageant’ from June 30 to July 6 at Changampuzha Park, Edappally. A GI (Geographical Indications) tag workshop will probably be organised on the venue. Will probably be dealt with by C R Elsy, former head of the IPR Cell of the Kerala Agricultural College. 

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