CHENNAI: IIT Madras on Monday has gifted a humble portrait of Mahatma Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during its 56th convocation, but there is a rich history embedded on it.
The portrait is weaved by traditional artisans of remote Pathamadai village in Tirunelveli, who for generations have inherited the art of weaving silk mats made of Korai grass grown near the water bodies across Cauvery and Thamirabarani.
These mats have been granted Geographical Indication (GI) status by the trademarks and GI authorities and is a symbol of pride for Tamil Nadu. But, off late, over a century-old craft has been dying.
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However, IIT Madras along with Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation with the support of Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India are reviving the craft using technology.
Abhijit P Deshpande, professor-in-charge, Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG), IIT Madras told Express, "Our group had developed a software-driven 192-hook Electronic Jacquard Handloom (EJH), which used electricity to select hooks.
The technology helps weavers make customised designs such as portraits and increased productivity to 300 per cent. The time required to weave a full mat has been reduced from 10 days to 3 days," he said.
He said Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned about Rs 50 lakh for the project and about 30 families involved in the traditional craft have been trained so far. "We feel privileged to gift one of these mats, which are general given as wedding gift and last a lifetime, to our honourable Prime Minister."