Handicrafts and Handlooms of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu stands out as the state with the most number of Geographical Indication (GI) tagged products. Delve into the rich culture and heritage of the State through its handicrafts and handlooms
A traditional Veena from Thanjavur
A traditional Veena from Thanjavur

Situated in southern India, the State possesses a remarkable tally of 58 Geographical Indication (GI) tags. Renowned for its vibrant temples, rich culture, delicious cuisine, stunning coastline, lush hill stations and fertile plains, the region also boasts a rich tradition of handicrafts, including paintings, wooden carvings and more. This is all complemented by its rich history and geography. The diverse culture of handlooms showcases a magnificent variety of traditional weaving techniques, intricate patterns, and skilled artisans who enhance the region's vibrant legacy.

Thanjavur Bronze Artefacts

A classic bronze figurine made in Thanjavur
A classic bronze figurine made in ThanjavurShutterstock

Swamimalai in Thanjavur has a long-standing tradition of brass and bronze casting using the lost-wax technique. Within this region, the sthapathi community is renowned as specialists in the craft of bronze statues. The tradition traces back to the Cholas, who pioneered using Panchaloha, an alloy of copper and tin blended with metals like silver, gold, and zinc to produce bronze. The lost-wax method starts with

sculpting a wax model, followed by pouring molten metal into the prepared mould holes. This melts away the wax, yielding a distinctive bronze sculpture. This meticulous process produces durable and intricate Chola bronze statues. Dating from 600 CE to 1300 CE, these unique artworks offer art collectors a glimpse into the region's storied legacy, making them exceptional additions to any collection or thoughtful gifts.

Nachiarkoil Kuthuvilakku

Nachiarkoil Kuthuvilakku (Annam lamp)
Nachiarkoil Kuthuvilakku (Annam lamp)Neeraj Bisht

Originating from the town of Nachiarkovial in Thanjavur, these lamps are intricately crafted, comprising a series of diyas set within a hollow design made up of four interconnected parts. The central pillar that crowns at the apex is called the Prabhai.

These lamps come in a diverse range of shapes and designs, including depictions of a female figure holding a shallow bowl and intricate tree branch patterns. They are

available in sizes ranging from a modest six inches to an impressive six feet, offering options to suit your preferences and spaces.

Terracotta Pottery

A potter at work on a terracotta pot
A potter at work on a terracotta potShutterstock

Terracotta pottery is a traditional craft in Tamil Nadu. Artisans mould clay into seamless shapes and fire them in kilns. Among the popular items are the clay lattice, ornamental horses and the Karigiri magic pots, made for the Arcot nawabs 400 years ago. If you wish to get some for yourself, Manamadurai in Sivagangai district is known for pottery making. You can buy these clay crafts in Manamadurai at the eponymous home goods store, Manamadurai Pottery Labour Association and Society or at the Manamadurai Pottery Works Cottage Industrial Co-operative Society.

Kanjivaram Silk Sarees

Kanjivaram silk saree with intricate craftwork on its fabric
Kanjivaram silk saree with intricate craftwork on its fabricShutterstock

Hailing from Kancheepuram, Kanjivaram silk sarees are meticulously handwoven from pure mulberry silk. Artisans skillfully incorporate zari threads of gold, silver, or bronze to depict patterns and motifs inspired by temple art and nature. These exquisite sarees are cherished as essential pieces in the trousseau of South Indian brides. These silk sarees are celebrated for their exceptional craftsmanship and vibrant colours, making them a standout choice worth exploring, especially for their contrasting borders and pallus.

Thammampatti Woodwork

Wooden statue of Lord Ganesha
Wooden statue of Lord GaneshaShutterstock

Thammampatti wood carving is a unique art form by skilled artisans in Salem. This craft has thrived for over 75 years and is Tamil Nadu's 36th GI product. These artisans create intricate carvings using local woods inspired by Tamil Nadu's temple architecture. Their range includes Hindu deity idols and mythological stories. Consider adding Thammampatti woodwork to your home decor. Their exquisite craftsmanship, intricate carvings and timeless elegance will infuse your space with a touch of traditional charm.

For more details, check out Tamil Nadu Tourism Board's official page.

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