Recently I travelled through the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala where extraordinarily skilled craft work can be found everywhere you go, whether in your hotel in the form of beautiful hand-made furniture and decorations or the ancient stone carvings in the temples you find dotted everywhere. There were master craftsmen in every village and town I visited and it was always incredibly satisfying to watch these people produce something extraordinary out of rudimentary materials. Below are some of the crafts I witnessed on my trip to southern India.
Although sari weaving is common throughout India, it is rare to find a whole village that is dedicated to the silk weaving industry. We visited the village of Tirubuvanam, close to Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, to discover the process of 'Pattu' silk weaving, which uses hand-assembled wooden machinery to meticulously weave silk, often with golden thread, into complex designs. The village produces a staggering 6,000 hand-made saris a year, mostly in very modest family homes. We were welcomed into one of these homes and led into a small room at the back to watch the weaving process. We were shown examples from the raw material stage to the finished product.