THRISSUR: Killimangalam mats that had vanished from the market for years are making a comeback, thanks to the efforts of four women who learnt the art of weaving the mat and preserving the place’s tradition. An active social media campaign and the intervention of NGOs working for the promotion of locally made products also helped revive the fortunes of the traditional mat weaving sector that had gone into oblivion.
Sindhu M S, secretary of Killimangalam Pulpaaya Neythu Cooperative Society, Bindu, Seeja and Beena have been engaged in making the mats for the past one decade. Killimangalam mats have a long history as they are made of dried grass. The weavers use thread and dried grass to weave the mat which has a unique artistic beauty and lasting quality.
“We are not traditional weavers. But after coming to know about the rich heritage of these mats, we wanted to learn the art of making them. Now, we work together to make customised mats for which demand has been rising gradually,” said Bindu, 43. The society was registered in 1977. Weaving machines, dying equipment and other facilities were set up in the building.
“These four women do all works related to mat making. We procure grass from farmers near Chitturpuzha. We dry it according to our needs and then colour it. For the past several years, only local people who were familiar with the mat used to buy it from us. The pandemic hit us badly and we came to a stage of stopping all activities. But a social media campaign was initiated by Premkumar of Moozhikulamshala, which was later taken up by many,” said Sudhakaran Killimangalam, president of the society. Through a campaign and an exhibition organised by an NGO in Kochi, the society could sell a large number of mats which fetched Rs 4 to Rs 5 lakh in two months. “After the social media campaign, we are getting orders from abroad and outside the state,” said Sudhakaran.
At present, society makes yoga mats and table runners along with two different sizes of mats that can be used for various purposes. The standard three-foot-wide and six-foot-long mat costs `2,400 and another one of larger size costs Rs 4,800. The society has also initiated paper works to apply for Geographical Indication tag for the mat.