Palm Leaf basketry, the Kottans
Holiday times are approaching. We are all either going to be travelling or having friends and family visiting. Time to think up of gifting ideas. Gifts that are unique, stylish, pretty and bring a smile to the faces of the gifted.
Around the globe there is an increasing consciousness about using environment friendly products and recycling. It is heartening to note that more people are giving a thought to contributing whatever little they can towards making the earth a better place. The ratio however may seem imbalanced, but we see no way forward other than doing our tiny bit.
I was at a restaurant to grab a quick bite and overheard a group of tourists discussing global warming, garbage dumping issues and the like. No, I wasn’t eavesdropping; the discussions were quite heated and hence loud too. One particular line of thought in their conversation engaged my attention and I was inspired to follow suit. The group of eleven vacationers had resolved to buy only handmade products as gifts for their near and dear ones. I went up to their table and pledged along.
An occasion for gifting arose just two days later and I headed to The Sandalwood Room, for that is one place I knew I could find a zillion options for handmade goods. Singapore, the city committed to eco-friendly environment loves this store. And these pretty palm leaf baskets, boxes and trays got me all excited, especially after hearing about the noble cause behind the craft.
These are my kind of colours and just right for Spring too! A journey back in time to school days, those cheerful craft classes where we learnt knitting, weaving baskets and myriad other handicrafts. My grandmother was a cut above the rest, advocated handmade goods and helped better my craft work with her simple but valuable inputs. I remember the glee with which we waited for the craft classes, coming as they would as a big respite from the endless hours of physics, chemistry, math, biology et al.
This traditional Palmyra basketry is a Chettinad contribution to the world of handicrafts. Chettinad is a region in southern Tamil Nadu, a state in India, known for its crafts and aromatic cuisine. The palm leaf basketry is locally known as the Kottans and were once woven by the women of affluent families for either rituals, or daily use. Akin to many other handicrafts of the world, this art too started dying down slowly and then rapidly. The M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organisation took a big step towards reviving the craft true to its original colours and patterns by teaching it to groups of women in villages.
The Foundation supports revival of dying rural crafts, textiles and architecture of the region. Rural women are encouraged to weave palm leaf baskets and are taught direct marketing skills to help them sustain themselves and grow.
“These brightly coloured baskets are washable and very durable, and being reusable, do their bit towards the environment. Available in different sizes, these multi-purpose baskets may be put to a variety of uses from gift packaging to home accessories like laundry baskets, plant holders, waste-paper baskets, beach bags and market baskets.” – M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation.
Two good reasons why The Sandalwood Room stocks them – support to handicrafts and empowerment of women.
Handmade items last longer. Made from high quality materials and handcrafted by trained artists, they come with the tag of being unique, making them a special item for gifting. This is an irresistible palm leaf drawstring bag in a lovely shade of green.
I have always thought that handcrafted goods have a personality and add as much to the one carrying it. How about using this green basket for fruits on your table? Or for your cosmetics on your dressing table? I guess they could be just used about anywhere in the house. Could add a dash of colour to white bathrooms even?
Every time I buy a handcrafted product, there is a sense of satisfaction in me that I have supported an artist, a craft and a local business. And I know there has been a human touch to it all connecting me to them even if it be for reasons of business. We need each other to complete our lives and give it the variety and spice that make living in today’s world worthwhile.
Thank you artisans, thank you The Sandalwood Room, thank you the M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation for uplifting a dying craft and helping women gain their place in their country’s economic mainstream.
The Sandalwood Room prides itself on being the only one of its kind in Singapore. It is a boutique for those who love the finer things of life. A vast array of Home Decor merchandise sourced from across the globe line their shelves spoiling you for choice, from ethnic to classic to contemporary, every piece standing out for its exclusivity.
- If you have liked any of these palm leaf baskets , walk in to shop and if you wish to place an order email them and The Sandalwood Room will be happy to courier your order to you.
- Price on request. Email them at the ID below.
- Payments are routed through PayPal.
- All products subject to availability.
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The Sandalwood Room, 78 Tras Street, Singapore 079017
Phone : +65 6221 2654 / +65 9786 5896
Facebook : Visit The Sandalwood Room