Tamil Nadu Crafts



Tamilnadu is an important state in the southern part of India. Standing on the coasts of Bay of Bengal this state is gifted with plenty of handicrafts and master craftsmen. Handicrafts vary from sea products to enthralling stone structures. Some important crafts of the state are discussed below :

JewelryAs in other parts of India, Tamil Nadu has its own traditional jewelry-especially the stone-encrusted jewelry, which reached its pinnacle here. The people of this state still have a strong belief in the efficacy of the navaratnas (nine gems) in warding off evil and enhancing the beneficial effects of planets. It is not surprising then that they find common use in women's jewelry here.

The ornaments, which are most common to this part of south India are the oddiyaanam (gold waist belt), vanki (armlet) and jimiki (eardrop), which are traditionally crafted and finished with great dexterity. The jimiki is a bell-shaped ear jewel set in coloured stones with pearls hanging at the lower end, and hangs from the lotus shaped kammal of diamonds or rubies worn on the lower lobe of the ear.

Another beautiful jewel is the maattal of gold or pearls attached to the lower end of the kammal and hooked on to the hair to take the weight of the ornaments. Neck jewellery is a world apart and the variety is endless. The

traditional adigai is a necklace of large cabochon rubies set in ascending order ending in a lotus shaped pendant. The necklace of mangoes, the maangaamaalai, stunning in appearance, consists of stone-studded gold mangoes strung together with a huge pendant of encrusted peacocks. The basic jewel for a married woman is the thaali or mangalasuthra-the marriage talisman. First tied on string and then replaced by a gold chain, the important part of the thaali is the pendant, whose design is determined by the community to which the woman belongs. Besides gold chains of various designs, the gold-coin necklace, the kaasumaalai, is typical of this region. The feet are adorned by golusu (silver anklets). The puduchcheri golusu, a variety of golusu, is of a chain design and comes from Pondicherry. Similarly, the heavy anklets with bells that tinkle (Gajja golusu) are also very popular.

The origin of most of the arts and crafts tradition of the state of Tamil Nadu can be related to the influence of temple economy that prevailed for a long time in this part of the country. The rich temples of the region not only gave patronage to the craftsmen but constant construction work in these temples helped the craftsmen regularly upgrade their knowledge and experience. Today, the craft traditions of the state have developed into full-fledged industries in themselves.

Musical Instruments

With the important role played by music and dance in the cultural life of Tamil Nadu, it was inevitable that the making of musical instruments would become a major craft. Most of the centers for this craft are situated around Thanjavur, which has also produced some of the country's finest musicians.

The Tamils classify their instruments not only according to their types, but also according to the different occasions on which they are used. The naadaswaram is an essential part of the marriage ceremony and the kumbu is associated with religious festivities. Percussion instruments are sometimes used to make announcements just as the tom-toms of Africa are used to pass on messages from one village to another.

Handicrafts Trade
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