Artistic Tamilnadu Handicrafts – Pottery, Embroidery, Durries, Mats

Continuing on the Tamilnadu handicrafts series, we are looking at the pottery, embroidery by the tribals of Nilgiris in Tamilnadu, Durries from Erode / Coimbatore and Pattamadai mats from Tirunelveli.

Vellore in north Arcot district is famous for black and red earthenware. Usilampatti in Madurai district has black pottery painted over with a special yellow substance which has an old tradition. Panruti in south Arcot is famous for a large variety of clay work that includes small and large figures of deities, toys, etc.

Karigiri in south Arcot is most famous for its unique style of pottery. The base of this pottery is made with a local semi-vitreous white low fusing china clay with high plasticity known as namakatte — as it has been used for nama — cast mark. The distinctiveness of this type of pottery lies in its highly artistic shapes, original colors in glazes and excellent ornamentation. Every article of this type of earthenware is distinctive. Even the very common clay pipe chillum is made into a noteworthy item both through its elegant shape and its deep blue or green glaze. Other noteworthy items are water jugs, tableware items including tea and dinner sets, ashtrays, beautifully decorated flower vases and decorative animal figures made as paperweights.

Pottery from Karukurichi in Tirunelveli district is popular for its technical superiority and novel and attractive shapes. Red, black and grey clay are used for the base. This clay body looks brighter after a coating of red ochre. This is done for all common items of use.

The Toda women of the Nilgiris region have evolved a very rich distinctive style of embroidery called Pugar which means flower. Geometrical patterns are stitched on long shawls called poothkuli that are worn in Roman style by the men folk. The designs are mostly symbolic ranging from floral motifs to animal and human figures.
There is a unique style of appliqué work done in Tanjore for decoration on temple hangings, especially those adorning the carved chariots used in processions. They are tubular in form as they hang down the side of the chariot. The designs are appliquéd with several traditional signs and motifs including images of gods and goddesses.


The Bhawani durries of Coimbatore district date back to a couple of centuries. They are woven in cotton and silk. On a cotton base, cotton stripes or traditional designs are woven and on silk base, the designs are woven in silk. This place was initially famous for silk durries but now staple fiber has taken its place for economic reasons.

Pattamadai mats
The beautiful reed mats crafted out of korai grass with cotton or silk in the weft are made in Pattamadai village in Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu. The traditional colors used are red, green and black and the weaves range from medium color to 140 counts in the silk or pattu mat. The old pattern consisted mainly of stripes at the two ends or streaks through the body. Designs inputs by modern designers has led to the making of contemporary mats which are greatly in demand both in the international and national markets. Today, apart from the sophisticated Pattamdai pai Pattamadai weavers also craft korai grass shopping bags, place mats, runners, office folders etc.

Where to Buy?

HHEC of India Ltd., (A Government of  India Company)
31 – 32, Guindy Industrial Estate,
Guindy, Chennai – 32.
You can also check out the shops mentioned in the previous post – Exploring Tamilnadu Handicrafts – Bronze Idols, Metal-ware, Wood Craft, Tanjore Painting

Posted on November 25, 2011, in Art, Attractions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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