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Turning coconuts into artworks

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A statuette of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made out of coconut.
A statuette of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made out of coconut.

Abdul Latheef Naha

MALAPPURAM: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the latest figure to be carved in coconut by Paramban Ittaman, a coconut artist from Valiyora, near Vengara, in the district. The statuette of Mr. Singh made out of a coconut had already drawn public attention even as Mr. Ittaman prepared for a display of his coconut curios at the Malappuram Craft Mela that began here on Wednesday.

Before the Prime Minister, Mr. Ittaman made the figures of U.S. President Barack Obama, former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and several other prominent personalities, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sree Narayana Guru, Pazhassi Raja, and Thunchath Ezhuthachan. All of them were created in coconut. And all of them had become popular attractions.

Coconut museum

Mr. Ittaman uses only coconut and other parts of coconut tree to sculpt the personages of his liking. He turned to creating human figures after having won a name for himself as a coconut artist. He has a unique museum of coconut curios at his house.

Besides the human figures, his coconut museum houses cocks, cranes, crows, owls, kites, pheasants, parrots, penguins, peacocks, sparrows, pigeons, ducks, boats, ships, lamps, flowers, caps, slippers, fishing rods, spiders, beetles, beehive, papaya, cup-and-saucer all of them created using various parts of coconut trees.

Mr. Ittaman says he gets inspiration from nature for making the coconut curios.

“I don’t discard any part of the coconut, be it the shell or husk or palm leaves or any single part that you can imagine,” he says.

A coconut climber, Mr. Ittaman has the hobby of collecting wastes of coconut trees and turning them into exquisite sculptures. He does not use any tool other than his sickle for his craft.

His is a regular face in school craft fairs in the district. He stopped climbing coconut tree after he fell and broke his spine and hand about a year ago. But his never-say-die zest for his craft keeps him busy these days.

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