History of
Indian Crafts
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Indian Crafts >> Mats
Indian Crafts - Mats
History of Mats

Mat weaving is one of the very oldest of mans creations done by joining grass with grass and interlacing leaves, with the minimum of tools. We, in India know that the grass mat was used when sitting down to pray, meditate or offer worship. It was obviously, considered clean for religious purposes.

This is one of the most popular craft of Tamilnadu with concentration in several villages. Finest mats upto 140 counts are woven in patamadai.
Fine Art
The usual motifs are trees, creepers, animals, birds, stylished human forms as also geometrical designs. Each design is normally enclosed in a square made up of lines. Circles are mostly repeated but with different decorations. Some have the chowpat, four squares with four empty spaces.

Rural folk bed mats, beach mats, traveling mats, prayer mats, table mats etc.
The mat is made from a reed which grows abundantly in marshy spots. After the reeds are washed in soda and dried, they are split to clean out the soft stuff inside. It is then sized so that all the pieces are of equal widths. These pieces are boiled in water for several hours and dried. In the mean time, they change to a brownish hue. These are once again washed, dried and where necessary dyed. For getting the ivory shade the splits are boiled along with boiled rice water. For different colours stuffs such as hibiscus, tamarind leaves etc are used. For black they are wrapped up in the mango tree bark and kept in mud for a few days. The weaving is mostly done in twill. Generally the warp is of one colour and the weft of another. Sometimes two styles are worked together to produce a number of designs.

Reed is a firm stemmed grass with a hollow stem, growing in forests. It is some what like the bamboo and their uses are sometimes interchangeable. The mating is done in the twill variety. The work starts at one corner and the painting is done diagonally, for which a long strip of reed is folded at the middle and another piece is inserted crosswise. The creases of the crosswise strips form the edges of the mat. Where articles for use with artistic touch are to be made, colours are introduced. Reeds make very sturdy baskets.
Basic Material : Reed, colours, palm leaves, soda, boiled rice juice, mud

Basic Material : Reed grass
Sitalpati mat


Indian Crafts : History of Mats