Mats has a long history dating back to the early stages of the Indus Valley Civilization. Hence this category of products enjoys a socio-cultural relevance in the Indian land while also having mentioned in ancient scriptures. According to testimonies from the medieval period, the present-day mats were originated in Bengal and slowly spread to other parts of the country. Legends go like, previously when the walls and floors of village houses were made of clay and polished with cow dung and fay, the people had only floors for their sleeping and sitting purpose due to the absence of furniture. As these floors were often cool, it was quite uncomfortable, especially during winters. Thus the mats were introduced, which were made of straws, grass, leaf, reeds, etc., helping the person keep cold afar. The item was equally preferred during summers, too, due to its property of sweat absorption.
Madur is one of the most famous and prominent mats among the varieties of mats manufactured in West Bengal. In Bengal, the word Madur is generic for floor mats. It is an ancient cottage industry from the place of Medinipur. The artisans working from the area are well trained in gathering labor-intensive raw materials and tools required for the craft. They weave these mats on a bamboo frame, using reed stalks and jute yarns. Today, the craft is practiced in workshops usually set inside households and run by family members. The craft, which is a means of living for thousands from the rural areas, is highly regarded for its durability and range of varieties. Mr. Hari Mandal, a senior artisan from the Maya village of Medinipur, is one among the few who practices the traditional form of reed mat weaving, which is in great demand in the Bengal market. He and his family are actively involved in both the farming of madur grass as well as madur weaving, an activity that is taken up for an additional source of income. Madur crafts produce products like table runners, mats, curtains, hats, purses, sun-guards, etc.
Medinipur is a place in Kolkata, situated on the banks of the river Kangsabati. The place with rich historic importance holds a number of archaeological sites perpetuating Jainism and Buddhism, namely, Tamralipta, Mahamaya temple, etc., built in the 10th century by the Soma Vamsi Dynasty of Odisha.