Unique craftsmanship maintained by the women of Idukki district: Coping with the changing socio-economic conditions of the Mannan community – Kerala

Giji K. Raman, The Hindu,

Making bamboo products is one of most creative work undertaken by the Mannan tribe of Kozhimala in Idukki district.

But today this exclusive work of craftsmanship is on the verge of extinction, thanks to the changing socio-economic conditions of the community.

Unique work

The unique work undertaken by the women of this tribe can be easily gauged by taking a look at the one major bamboo product that they make — ‘Kannadipaya’.

The mat has a polished surface, and it is so smooth that one can see one’s reflection. Unlike other bamboo mats, this mat can be rolled into thin sheets. The Mannan women are known for their ability to make decorative baskets, which are usually used to store or carry food grains, and for fishing. But making ‘Kannadipaya’ stands out as their most creative work.

“It needs extra care in making, and the women members learn the craft from the older generation. Now it is confined to only a few members who also desist from making it due to lack of demand,” says Chellamma, a tribal member.

She said that earlier there was a huge demand for the mats among the tribe, and so many women used to engage in this work.

The mats were used as curtains inside the houses. But the community members stopped buying ‘Kannadipaya’.

Poor demand

“Even the bamboo baskets have no demand now. The markets are full baskets made of plastic,” says Chellamma. More and more people opt for plastic products because the prices of bamboo products are usually a bit high as it involves more human labour. […]

Nearly five years back, Kanchiyar grama panchayat had drawn up a plan to train more women to keep the craft of making ‘Kannadipaya’ alive among the tribe. However due to inadequate marketing initiative, the project was shelved.

“The ‘Kannadipaya’ could be marketed as a piece of artistic work and without demand it cannot survive,” says Chandiran, a tribal craftsman.

According to him, the young generation has moved on to other income-generating sources to support the family.

Mannan tribe is one of the primitive tribes, and has a traditional King who acts as their custodian, supported by a group of ministers in various settlement across the high ranges.

Source: A unique work of craftsmanship faces extinction – The Hindu
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/a-unique-work-of-craftsmanship-faces-extinction/article800113.ece
Date Visited: Thu Feb 12 2015 11:58:23 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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