Palms are an important part of everyday life for most of the southern region of India. Palm fiber is one of the natural fiber extracted from leaf of Palmyra trees, leaves have been used from pre historic times as food, shelter, clothing and various craft forms. Palmyra trees are cultivated majorly in coastal areas as they support its growth, and they grow on their own, not requiring any attention or any special needs of farming, these leaves were also used as manuscripts to preserve the story from mythological events.
A large range of products are made out of different parts and varieties of palm leaf, from baskets, hand fans, mats, and caps to accessories, each and every part of tree is usable. The trunk is made of fiber strands and can be used as a natural fiber, the leaf and fruit, roots, all of it in one form or another can be used.
In Kaccheripadi town of Ernakulam district a society which trains different age groups women who belong to a financially weak background and recovered from various mental and physical sicknesses. This kind of good work has been going on for the past five to six decades and embroidery, banana fiber craft, tailoring and of course palm craft is being taught to the women. The center is open to all in need, irrespective of age, caste or religion.
This project is important because it enables the women to help themselves. Money for orders is sent up-front, so wages are assured, covering the cost of production, no matter how low the market goes. The women are taught skills tailored to their abilities. Each skill is a valuable part of the final product, and as such, each member of the center is valued.
The palm is brought from Idakky town of Kerala, where its fibers are extracted in traditional and a long painstaking method, which has extinct from almost a majority of parts of India. The products done here range from a simple mobile pouch to a large table mat. And pricing starts from Rupees fifty to anywhere between two to three thousand. The loom named “Vimala” is being discovered locally and customized to suit the need for weaving in this particular craft. A frame loom is also used for the production, where the mats can be of limited length.