Thazhapaya Mats

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Screw pine weaving of mats is one of the traditional crafts practiced by women in Kerala. The leaves for this mat are taken from the sword-shaped thorny screw-pine plant. The process is tough as the leaf has sharp thorns growing in both directions. Two different types of pines are used in the making of mats. The short variety is used for a large number of items as it can be both faded and painted. The finer varieties of mats need narrower splits and as they need to be extra silk therefore they are boiled in the pure milk.

The weaving is done crosswise; and interlacing continues as new strips are added. On completion the edges are hemmed with narrow screw-pine strips. Superfine mats made of very fine screw-pine leaf splints placed at 8 to 10 per inch are woven by the highly skilled craftsmen. The products made are table mats, bags, cushion covers wall hangings, and beach hats. In the rough textured variety of mats the edges are woven simultaneously and the weaving starts with dual strips, while at the edges it is continued with a single strip. Decorative embroidery adds to the beauty of the products.

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