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Saturday, Feb 19, 2005

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God's own CRAFTS

The best of Kerala's handicrafts are being showcased at an ongoing exhibition


THE ESSENCE of Kerala is now available is right here in Mangalore. Not the backwaters, not the Kathakali performances, not the frenzied boat races, but a gentler facet: the handicrafts. Artisans from various cooperatives have brought their ware, on sale at the Srinivas Auditorium on Ganapathi High School Road till February 21.

Under the banner of the Kerala State Handicrafts Apex Co-operative Society Limited, Ernakulam, the exhibition contains handlooms and crafts in wood, bamboo, metal, terracotta and leather.

There are the exclusive and famous Aranmula mirrors expertly blending different metals in a tradition mastered by only a handful of artisan families from Aranmula in Alleppey District. "These families have not revealed the secret of manufacturing these mirrors to anyone," reveals A.K. Balachandran, Exhibition In-Charge. These exquisite mirrors, often depicted in paintings by Raja Ravi Varma, are priced between Rs. 670 and Rs. 1,400.

Traditional saris

Another highlight of the exhibition has obviously been the handloom saris, namely the Balaramapuram and Chennamangalam saris of Kerala. These items moved so quickly that they were soon sold out and orders for further stocks have been hastily placed. The traditional kasavu saris of Kerala, elegant statements in off-white with golden borders and worn on auspicious occasions, are also on sale here.

Of course, those items integral to any handicrafts exhibition also find their way to the display shelves here: statuettes of white cedar wood, resembling sandalwood, paddy straw creations, bamboo baskets, wooden jewellery boxes, terracotta items, canvas paintings, wooden toys, bedsheets, stone carvings and all the usual exhibition fare.

Kerala classics

But it's an exhibition from Kerala cooperatives, so it might be best to pick what's indigenous to the State. Multi-purpose eco-friendly mats made of banana and palm fibre, and sleeping mats made out of leaves of screwpine plants found in abundance on the riversides, are draws at the exhibition, as are the multipurpose wooden mats made of rose wood and white wood which can be folded despite being wooden. Sets of bamboo tablemats, which make great gift items are also on sale here, available for Rs. 75.

RAVIPRASAD KAMILA

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