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  • The Payyannur Pavithra Mothiram payyanurpavithramothiram The Payyannur Pavithra Mothiram  is a uniquely crafted golden ring shaped like a knot and considered to be a sacred ornament. The sole right to make this holy ring was vested in the hands of a particular family at Payyannur in Kannur district. This ring is believed to be a luck and grace to anyone who wears it with devotion.
  • Aranmula Kannadi
  • aranmulakannadiCenturies ago the native craftsmen invented a mirror made of metal. The bronze ( odu) workers of Aranmula (Pathanamthitta district) specialize in making the world famous cast metal mirrors with handles known as the Aranmula Kannadi
  • The Nilavilakku
  • nilavilakkuThe Nilavilakku is integral to all the rituals and ceremonies in a Malayalee's (Keralite) life. Lighting the nilavilakku on any occasion is believed to be auspicious. Huge nilavilakku play an important role at the presentation of various art forms since most of them are performed at night in the light of the traditional lamp.
  • Uru
  • uruThe uru or dhow was the traditional Arabian trading vessel. Once the Arab traders discovered wealthy Kerala, her solid timber, skilled craftsmen and her native technology centuries ago, they shifted their dhow construction to Malabar (northern Kerala). Beypore in Kozhikode district, the most important harbour in the region, thus became the centre for ship building. The industry thrived here until recently when iron and steel took over as the best material for construction.
  • Urus were gigantic vessels, created meticulously by nailing together well planed planks of timber. It took a team of fifty men at least four years to complete a vessel.
  • Today, not many vessels are launched from Beypore and the artisans have taken to crafting little wooden models of their gigantic masterpieces.
  • Caparisoned elephant miniatures
  • caparisonedelephantminiaturesThe more you come to know about our festivals the more you become familiar with phrases like 'caparisoned elephants', 'coloured parasols' etc. In Kerala, the elephant is a part of our lives and almost every house has at least one. You can carry one home in your trunk too. Our craftsmen are skilled at carving out little elephants in wood and stone, and decorating them with little mirrors, beads and embroidery to make them look like the actual caparisoned tusker.
  • Treasure Chest - Netturpettinetturpetti' Netturpetti', the ethnic jewel box of the Kerala woman was once a mark of the influential families of the land. The casket ( petti) originally designed in the Nettur region of Malabar is testimony of the patience and skill of the artisans who make it. The box usually made of rosewood is fully handcrafted. Every joint, every screw and lock is shaped and chiselled by the hand. The wooden box is first varnished and then fixed with brass frames. Today, this richly embellished box with its conical lid is a collector's item. Very few of the artisans remain and the casket is fast becoming a rare object.
  • Nettippattom
  • nettippattomThe Keralites' love for gold is reflected even in the manner they adorn their favourite beast. The elephant, which is an integral part of any celebration here, is turned out in full regal splendour for any pageant or procession. The nettippattom (the glittering ornament that adorns the forehead of the elephant) is crafted in gold by a skilled clan of artisans. Nowhere in India is an elephant decorated so extravagantly or befittingly.
  • The nettippattom is today made in Thiruvankulam village of Ernakulam district and the adjoining areas of Thrissur.
  • Kasavu Mundu and Kasavu Neryathu
  • kasavumunduKasavu Mundu and Kasavu Neryathu, are extremely light pure cotton handlooms edged with golden thread. The golden edging is sometimes touched with contrasting bright colours. They are worn as traditional saris or used as dress material.
  • A Malayalee (Keralite) woman wearing the mundu and neryathu, with her long black oiled hair tied loosely and strung with a garland of Jasmine, is the very picture of elegance. She hardly uses any facial make-up other than the bindi on the forehead and kajal on her eyes, not to mention the gold ornaments which are her passion. The combination is unique to this land and gives an attractive but natural look. The men wear the mundu around the loin and the neryathu around the shoulders.
  • Pepper
  • pepperIn Kerala pepper is cultivated in a mixed crop environment. In Wayanad, pepper is planted amongst coffee plantations, and cultivated on a large scale. Pepper is also a main item in most kitchen gardens of Kerala.
  • The spice-scented shores of Kerala have beckoned traders from time immemorial, and its allure continues to hold sway even today. The spices trade still dominates the commercial transactions of the State. India, the world's largest exporter of spices, realises three fourths of its total output from the rich plantations of Kerala.
  • Kerala's spice trade with Babylon and Egypt can be traced back to the 3rd millennium B.C. Cinnamon from Kerala was used in embalming the dead bodies of the Pharaohs and in the manufacture of perfumes and holy oils. King Solomon of Israel (1000 B.C) is recorded to have sent his ships to Kerala for spices. Cinnamon from Kerala first found its way to the Middle East through the Arabs.
  • The Paintings of Ravi Varma
  • ravivarmapaintingsPrince Ravi Varma(1848-1906)of Kilimanoor Palace of Travancore perfected his skills even at a very early age. He learnt oil painting from Theodor Johnson, an English painter who was then staying at the palace.
  • Ravi Varma's paintings capture the subtle emotions and sublimity of physique of human characters and nature alike in a realistic manner.
  • The exquisite works of Ravi Varma are on display at the Sree Chithra Art Gallery. The gallery is located in the Napier Museum compound, Thiruvananthapuram city. It is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on all days except Mondays. The gallery also houses the works of Roerich and fascinating works in the Mughal, Rajput and Tanjore schools of art, pieces from the Ajanta and Bagh caves, and an oriental collection from China, Japan, Tibet and Bali.
  • Mural Paintings
  • muralpaintingsKerala stands next to Rajasthan in having the largest collection of murals based on puranic (ancient Indian mythology) themes. The murals of Kerala bear the stamp of uniqueness in aesthetic composition and techniques. Most of these were painted between 15th and 19th centuries, many even date back to the 8th century AD.
  • The temples and palaces of Kerala are invariable sagas of Hindu gods and goddesses and visual poems of their heroic deeds. It took a lot of dedication and devotion to create these visual wonders. The pigments, gum, brushes etc are all taken from plants or natural minerals. Frequently used pigments in Kerala are saffron-red, saffron-yellow, green, red, white, blue, black, yellow and golden yellow.
  • The largest mural panel in Kerala - the Gajendra Moksha - is at Krishnapuram Palace near Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district. Extensive murals depicting scenes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Bhagavatha are preserved at the Mattancherry Palace, Ernakulam district. The murals of the Shiva temple in Ettumanoor provide insight into the earliest forms of Dravidian mural art.
  • Sandalwood Oil
  • sandalwoodoilSandalwood oil, otherwise called the "liquid gold" is a popular perfume of the land over the years. Extracted from the roots and wood of sandalwood (Santalum album), the oil is a costly item marketed at a few choosy outlets all over the state.
  • Marayoor is the only place in Kerala with natural sandalwood forests. The sandalwood factory run by the Forest Department is of tourist interest. Less rainfall is suitable for the growth of best sandalwood trees from which good quality oil can be extracted.
  • An inevitable cosmetic of the elite, the sandal oil from the Karnataka Government gained a good market in Kerala over the years.
  • Ecofriendly coir crafts
  • coirSimple and elegant, the beautifully crafted coir products of Kerala give an aesthetic touch to any home or office. Crafted by the women of the picturesque coir villages of the land of coconuts, the innovative range of products include mats, rugs, wall hangings, door pieces, bags, hammocks, ceiling/floor furnishing, beds, cushions, little show pieces, blinds...
  • Made from the husk of the coconut, coir craft is a long drawn out process. First the coconut husks in huge quantities are left to decay in the backwaters surrounding these villages. Once the softer parts decay and only the fibre remain, it is collected and woven into ropes on indigenous machines. These are then dyed and meticulously crafted to fill orders.
  • The mask that's become the face of Kerala (Kathakali models)
  • kathakalimodelsThe Kathakali masks today available as little souvenirs and showpieces are an icon of Kerala's culturescape. Complete with the elaborate headgear, painted face and long black hair of the Kathakali costume, these curios are made in plaster of Paris, clay or papier mache.
  • Based on the colour of the face, the shape of the headgear and beard, there are five distinctive types of characters in Kathakali. The pacha or 'green' costume represent the virtuous and noble; the kathi or 'knife' the proud, aggressive, and unrighteous; the red thadi or 'beards' are the aggressive and demonic, the white thadi or 'beards' the mythical and fantastic beings like the monkey gods and the black thadi or 'beards'- the tribesmen, foresters and cave dwellers. The minukku or 'polished' characters represent women, sages, brahmins etc. The Keralite usually goes for the pacha or the good characters to be displayed in his home.
  • Chundan vallom models
  • chundanvallommodelsMade of Anjili wood, the Chundan valloms or Snake boat of Kerala are over 24 to 36 metres long with raised sterns designed to resemble the hood of a cobra. These giant backwater wonders can accommodate up to 100 oarsmen.
  • The first Chundan vallom dates back to the 9th century and used to accommodate upto 200 men on board. The early Europeans who came to Kerala called them 'Snake boat' because of its great length that resembled the 'Snake boats' of Norway.
  • The Chundan miniatures are seen with varied decorations - sandalwood or ivory fittings, brass buttons etc and are often modified as candle stands, pen stands, key holders etc. Prices range from less than a hundred rupees to a few hundreds depending on the size, the kind of wood and embellishments used. They are available at bargainable rates at fancy stores and for standard rates at government emporia across the State.
  • Natural Chips from Kerala
  • naturalchipsChips are a favourite snack with people of all ages, all over the world. In Kerala, our exotic cuisine offers a rare variety of natural chips - without artificial colours or added flavours. We make chips from unripe bananas, jackfruits, tapioca, potatoes etc. You can find chips makers all over the State. This crisp, salty, deep fried thin slices of vegetables are also made in the houses and the most common is the banana chips.
  • Pulpaya
  • pulpayaSmooth, cool, red and black designed, the traditional Pulpaya or grass mats of Kerala is one of the oldest hand woven products of the State. These mats have even found mention in the Atharva Veda (3500 - 1500 BC), one of the four Vedas (philosophical treatises of ancient India). Used to sit on as well as to sleep on depending on their size and shape, these mats were at that time used mostly by the elite when ordinary people used wooden planks to sit
  • Cashewnuts
  • cashewnutsFor centuries a cashew nut is a commercial export item of Kerala. It is said that cashewnuts were brought here by Portuguese traders. Most of the cashew processing units in the state are concentrated in Kollam district.
  • Ramacham (Vettiver)
  • vettiverRamacha vishari (literally fan made of Vettiver) and sleeping mats made of Ramacham and thailam or perfume extracted from its roots are a range of products used in Kerala since ancient times during the hot summer. Even though their purposes are 'better' served today by the modern electrical amenities, they still are luxurious ethnic items seen in Kerala homes.
  • The gold jewellery of Kerala
  • goldjewelleryThe Keralite's love for gold can be traced back to very ancient days itself. Even from those days each community or caste had its own traditional designs of ornaments which were made specially by the family goldsmith. But the modern days see an entirely different trend. The boom in the fashion industry has brought all these - the traditional designs and the modern patterns under one roof, the jewellery shops.
  • Shrimps & Sea foods
  • shrimpsseafoodsKerala is the largest fish landing state in India with a 36,000 sq km marine water spread and 3600 sq km of inland water bodies comprising 44 rivers, lakes, estuaries, backwaters, canals and fishfarms,. The land has a maximum marine resource potential of one million tonnes annually.
  • Shrimp, cuttlefish, squid and quite a few other fish from Kerala have found a large global market. The land blessed with rich inshore fishing areas yield commercially important varieties like oil sardines (mathi chala), mackerel (ayila), prawn (chemmeen) and silver bellies (mullans).
  • A third of the State's fish landing comes from Kollam, especially Neendakara, an old sea port on the Arabian sea coast. Kollam has 24 inland fishing villages. Moving towards central Kerala, Alappuzha, popularly known as the Venice of the East, is also a great contributor to the large fish harvest. Kochi, the Queen of Arabian Sea, has a large concentration of seafood export companies.
  • Pickles
  • picklesKeralites always relish hot, spicy pickles or achars, be it with breakfast, lunch or dinner.The most popular of the pickles of Kerala are made of mangoes - you have tender mango pickles, dry mango pickles, sliced mango pickles etc. Next in line is Citrus lime pickle this again comes in various tastes and shapes. Others include ginger and garlic pickles, gooseberry pickles, vegetable pickles, chilly pickles, prawn pickles, seer fish pickles and so on.
  • Fibrecrafts
  • fibrecraftsDolls as light as feather, mats, purses, bags, bangles, wall hanging, even parts of dresses... The list of handmade fibre articles is endless and is best left to the creativity of the craftsmen. A product of the cottage industry, these articles reach the cities from many hamlets across the state.
  • Usually white or flaxen, these fibres are obtained from plants like the banana (stem), Pineapple (leaves) etc. The soft, silky texture of the fibre gives a glazed finish to the products. These fibres are twisted, tanned and then dyed with pigments, before they are woven intricately into these numerous articles.
  • Fibrecraft articles are available in fancy stores, the SMSM Institute - a state owned handicrafts emporium at Thiruvananthapuram and are also sold by street vendors at different tourist destinations.
  • These articles are not too expensive and last a lifetime if used with care and kept in dust free environs.
  • Bell metal wares
  • bellmetalwaresThe most famous bronze craft in India is the ancient statue of Nataraja (Lord Siva in dancing posture). But in Kerala bronze (bell metal or gun metal) popularly known as Odu is used for making small and big vessels, lamps etc. Huge wick lamps in different sizes and shapes like the Nilavilakku , Thookkuvilakku - hanging lamp, etc are widely used in each and every house.
  • The Valkannadi (literally tailed mirror) is representative of Lakshmi - the goddess of prosperity. Other pooja articles like the Kindi (water container of a particular shape with a sprouting nozzle), Uruli (wide shallow cooking vessel), Thattu (plates), etc are exquisitely crafted in bronze. Most of these are now only available in curio shops as collectors items. The originals are pretty expensive. The Malayalee kitchen once almost fully occupied with odu ware are now replaced by stainless steel, aluminium, ceramic and glass ware.
  • But even today for rituals and religious occasions 'Odu' wares are still used. A variety of bronze (Vellodu) is often used for making the uruli and it has more alloy content of lead.
  • The odu is cast mostly in northern Kerala. Places like Payyannur and Kunhimangalam in Kannur, Irinjalakuda in Thrissur, Pallippuram in Palakkad - are all in the northern regions and towards south Aranmula and Mannar in Alappuzha district have several bronze casting units.
  • Kathakali puppets
  • kathakalipuppetsKathakali has become synonymous with Kerala and a Kathakali mask or model is today considered representative of Kerala. Little models of the artform or its mask cast in plaster of paris or carved out of wood are popular souvenirs. The Kathakali puppet is a rich representation of the Kathakali vesham (costume) and varies in size from small curios to huge statues.
  • Kathakali, the 300 year old classical dance drama, involves mime, mudras and musical accompaniments and is based on mythology.
  • Capturing the human as well as super human characteristics, the Kathakali costumes and make up strictly follow certain representational rules.
  • The headgears and paint on the face vary for different characters. The costumes are distinct from other artforms in their billowing umbrella skirts, full sleeve blouses, heavy ornaments and large headgears.
  • The Kathakali puppet models have all these specifications. These models are readily available in handicraft emporiums across the state, and can be made to order in certain villages were the craftsmen live.
  • Clove
  • A common spice of Kerala, clove are the dried floral buds of Eugenia caryophyllaeta. Keralites call it Grambu or Karayambu.
  • Clove is one of the key ingredient of 'garam masala' (spices in varying proportions roasted and powdered). Traditionally garam masala is prepared and preserved at home, but now masala in ready to use powder form is available under different brand names. Clove are also used to flavour sweets.
  • Clove are available in sealed packs, which can be preserved for years together, at any provision store in the state.
  • In addition to being a flavouring agent clove has medicinal value too. Clove oil is a balm for tooth ache - Even the crushed leaves of the clove tree give relief to tooth ache. Clove oil is also effective in the treatment of acidity and indigestion. Prices varies according to quality and seasons.
  • Images in straw
  • imagesinstrawThe backwaters and the evening sky, vallomkali (boat race), village fairs and festivals, huts and hamlets, hills and valleys... all the spellbinding sights of Kerala are captured and given life in straw art. This peculiar craft of pasting straw cut to different sizes on cloth or canvas to create images is called vaikkol chritrangal (straw picture).
  • A popular cottage industry, straw pictures find a good market during festivals like Onam, Christmas, New Year etc. in the form of greeting cards. These greeting cards are comparatively less expensive than others in the market.
  • The vaikkol craftsmen are mostly villagers. Hence the simplicity of the villager, his thinking and aesthetic sense is very much reflected in these pictures. Huge wall hangings sometimes made even two dimensionally are also available. These finely crafted works of art, the elegant and innovative straw pictures, are available throughout the year in handicraft emporia all over the State.
  • Gift Kerala!
  • giftkeralaPaico has brought out a new shopping range - an eye-catching Kerala souvenir collection of stationery and ceramics. These include attractively packaged items, inspired by the culture and landscape of Kerala, like mugs shaped like mini Niraparas, those with designs of mural paintings, letter pads with kasavukaras (the trademark gold border of the traditional sarees and mundus of Kerala), Kanikonna (a beautiful yellow flower found in abundance in the State) borders and so on. T-shirts and caps are also available.
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