String theory in social empowerment

Wooden Wonders: Ten Narikuravars are taking part in the workshop. Photo:M. Moorthy

Wooden Wonders: Ten Narikuravars are taking part in the workshop. Photo:M. Moorthy  


A trust helps members of the Narikuravar community by teaching them how to make and market beaded, wooden jewellery, says Liffy Thomas.

Kasturi sorts strings of tiny orange beads of various lengths on her table and gives them to Kausalya who passes copper-coloured threads through them for strength. “You must maintain the correct count of the beads to get the shape of a necklace,” Kausalya instructs Kasturi as she places the beaded jewellery on her neck.

She then moves to the next table to see how the design is shaping up. “After beading jewellery for years, it is nice to be teaching others from my community,” says 20-year-old Kausalya, a Narikuravar from Nellore and one of the trainers at the South India Tribal Arts and Science Welfare Trust.

The Trust empowers men and women from the Narikuravar community by helping them start their own wooden jewellery unit.

A batch of 10 Narikuravars is being trained at the Trust’s office at Anna Salai for a month now, with expenses being met by Speed Trust.

The trust was started 25 years ago by A. Gnana Sundari, a Narikuravar.

She runs Naari Wooden Jewellery which manufactures, supplies and exports all types of beaded jewellery.

“The gypsies are experts at making jewellery with glass but they need to move on to more trendy stuff. Wooden jewellery is more in demand now. Also, it is sought after as wood has no side effects, is light-weight and can be washed,” she says, showing the designs made for export.

Gnana Sundari only trains people from the gypsy community who are sponsored by non governmental organisations. For some of them, classes are conducted at their village.

“Speed Trust, for instance, give us the sample of a pattern they want the participants to be trained in,” she says. Ways to market products, new patterns and getting the right colour combination are other aspects of the workshop.

One can earn between Rs. 250 and Rs. 300 a day selling these jewellery. Gnana Sundari has requests from colleges and other organisations to conduct similar workshops. But, she is clear she will teach only the Narikuravars.

“They don’t know any other trade. If I were to start training other groups then it will eat into their business,” she says.

“People can empower this community by buying jewellery designed by them.”

For orders, contact Gnana Sundari at 94444 15121, 90250 91912. Email

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 7:14:38 AM |

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