There was a time in Thalangara in Kasargod, when each and every household in the locality was engaged in making the famed Thalangara Thoppies, the beautiful embroidered skull caps. But today, there is just one person in the entire area, Abubacker Musliyar of Bankode, who is engaged in the production Thalangara caps.
The handicraft was once the backbone of the locality’s economy and the hand-crafted skull caps were exported to foreign countries, especially to the Gulf. Later, the departure of the craft’s great founders, K S Abdul Khader Haji, M P Abdul Khader Haji and Padhindadkkal Muhammed Haji along with the introduction of mechanised skull cap production affected this industry, which resulted in the slow disappearance of the industry from Thalangara.
“Once, before Gulf money started to flow to Thalangara, these beautiful caps were our main financial source. This was a major hub of the skull cap production, where men and women used to weave caps. The Gulf money devastated this industry that helped many generations to survive in their struggles,” said Abubacker Musliyar, the last link in the long chain of skull-cap weavers.
“It was a popular small-scale industry in the locality. Almost all of the residents were involved in the craft to earn their livelihood. The men wove the skull caps and the women did the additional embroidery works. The fame of Thalangara thus spread even to the foreign countries including Malaysia, Burma, Singapore and the Gulf countries. A woman was paid one anna, six paise, for a cap,” he said, commemorating the glorious past of Thalangara.
The weavers use different designs and colours in the caps. Instead of dying the cap, every thread is dyed in a particular pattern, and then woven in accordance with some specific designs which finally resemble the calligraphic forms that are used in Arabic and Persian mats. It is therefore a long-drawn process which demands much care and creativity.
“Although the traditional Thalankara caps have been replaced by the caps made with modern technology, for me it is an art. I make caps because I enjoy this art, than because I can earn money with this craft. During the holy month of Ramadan, I will be a bit more busy because the visitors to the historic Thalangara Malik Deenar mosque often buy these caps as a souvenir,” said Abubacker Musliyar. The glorious age of the famed Thalangara Thoppis will come to an end with Abubacker Musliyar, the only one who weaves the caps in the village. Though many others who were once engaged in the art abandoned it in search of more viable means of livelihood, Musliyar is still doing this skilful craft, passed down to him through generations.