The Art and Craft of Palm Weaving

Palm–the state tree of Tamil Nadu–is perhaps the most underrated tree. An indigenous tree that like the Neem “just simply grows”. No demands. No asks. It is perfectly suited to this geography and has been part of our lives from days gone by. That it supports a range of livelihood is little known outside of Tamil Nadu, where it is called “celestial tree” as all its parts are useful, and not just for making some amazing handicraft items.  History books relate the use of palm in its varied forms in art, culture, ritual and every day life.

Newly germinated seeds form fleshy sprouts below the surface is highly nutritious just as the mature seed’s hardshell hides a crunchy kernel that tastes like a sweet water chestnut. In ancient times, dried palm leaves were used to write manuscripts.    

Three years ago when when we noticed that Palm trees were being cut since there no longer “any use for them” we were taken aback.  The reasons were many.  There was the lack of skilled people to climb the tree in addition to the inability to access markets that valued these beautiful products which meant that weavers were out of work.  Wild Ideas stepped in and decided to set up a weaving unit to revive this craft.  And thus began our journey with Palm leaves.   From knowing close to nothing about palm weaving to having a strong weaving center with exceptional utilitarian designs we have been able to continue a craft that is  deeply rooted in the culture and tradition of the people of Tamil Nadu.  
#Palmistry #Karaikudy #Chettinad