Kerala’s rich culture and history manifests itself in the form of different mediums like dance, songs, food, lifestyle, martial arts, festivals, languages, festivals etc. One important manifestation of Kerala’s culture is its handicrafts which is a perfect reflection of the simple and sophisticated social life of its people. Most of it is an age old hereditary occupation practiced by people for generations, but there are also many amateurs who practice it for the great love of art. The Kerala handicrafts are made of traditional materials like ivory, bamboo, palm leaves, sea shells, wood, coconut shells, clay, cloth, metals, stone etc. Hence using the naturally occurring materials the local people make beautiful pieces of art which can be used for both personal use as well as a decorative item. Many of these handicrafts are seen in the beautiful and grand old palaces, old heritage homes and museums. Some of the popular handicrafts of Kerala are flower vases, embroidery works, ash trays, kathakali masks, jewel box, elephants, idols of gods, goddesses and local people, miniature boats etc. all of these articles are intricately related to the social and economic life of these people. It forms a part of their everyday social life.
The artists making these crafts have years of experience and expertise. The make everything from items of everyday use to props and items used in traditional folk dances, festivals, martial arts etc. some of the popular dance forms which make used of these handicrafts are Kathakali, Theyyam, Mudiyettu, koodiyattam etc. These dance forms are some of the most popular dance forms of Kerala which are famous all over the world as well. The colors to decorate these items are made from the locally available natural materials like rice, turmeric powder, powdered leaves of Acacia etc. The colors derived are excellent, vibrant and also natural and organic. This form of art has now evolved as a small scale industry in Kerala and provides source of livelihood to many people all over the state. From production to transportation and selling there are thousands of people involved in this profession. Many of them are even exported to outside countries.
The increased demand of these products has contributed to the growth of this industry to a great extent. As a result many training centers are coming where people are trained to master this art, which off course takes years. Some of the popular handcrafts are –
Brass and metal works like lamps and various household articles made of bell metal which is an alloy of tin, copper and brass. Coir and cane products like rattan, mattresses, floor furnishings, mats etc, ivory works like mythological characters and showpieces, furniture made of exquisite wood carvings, sandalwood carving products like boxes, small animals, ashtrays, kathakali postures, candle stands, textiles like Kancheepuram skils and many more. You will be overwhelmed with the beauty and variety of these products. It would be a great memento to take back home that will be reminiscent of this beautiful trip all through your life.