& MAT WEAVING
Basketry and mat weaving is one of the very oldest of
man's creations done by joining grass with grass and
interlacing leaves, with the minimum of tools. In India,
the grass mat was used for religious purposes like sitting
down to pray, meditate or offer worship. Bamboo, cane,
jute, reeds, grasses and palm leaves are used as raw
material for basketry and mats.
Coiled basketry is the earliest known craft form in
this genre and has an affinity with weaving.
The kangri, a willow basket with a handle, containing
an earthern pot, is the most typical and indispensable
part of a Kashmiri's belongings. In Ladakh, long conical
shaped backpack baskets are woven out of willow, malchang,
and a local grass called chipkiang, to carry everything
from manure, grain and vegetables to babies.
Jute and coconut fibers are used in the southern states
while leaves of date palm are used in the northern states.
In most of the plains of central and northern India,
window screens, known as chiks, are made of fine bamboo
slates and tied with plain or coloured string in artistic
designs. The tall golden-white grass is used to make
mudhas and chairs.
Bihar is known for its coiled basketry using a grass
locally known as sikki. The grass is used to create
lovely dolls, toys and caskets.
Assam, a state with abundant raw materials, has a large
variety of beautiful products like baskets, mugs for
rice beer, hukkas, musical instruments, floor mats,
fishing devices and handles. The basketry and the mats
are very much alike in Assam and Bengal. Tripura's speciality
is screens made from split bamboo. Mizo baskets, made
for the carrying of rice is woven with four long bamboo
splints at the corners. Arunachal Pradesh excels in
cane and bamboo work with bamboo bridges and cane belts.
Orissa has some outstanding items, like articles made
from what is known as the golden grass. Manipur has
very unusual type of baskets, with dome shaped lid made
out of bamboo.
Tamil Nadu is famed for its kora grass mats. Extremely
delicate, and indeed the most aristocratic of mats in
the world, are made in Kerala. Square bamboo box made
here is perfectly gorgeous with black and white design.