Making baskets for a living

GOOD WORK: A woman selling bamboo products at Srirangam.— Photo: M. Srinath

GOOD WORK: A woman selling bamboo products at Srirangam.— Photo: M. Srinath

Srirangam is also famous for bamboo baskets, produced by a group of weavers. When the town is asleep during night, the community of basket weavers come alive. They get the bamboo from farm near the Coleroon in Melur and transport it to Srirangam.

Divided into several small groups, these families weave baskets of various sizes. Firstly the bamboo strands are cut and the skin of bamboo plant is shaved. These strands are then placed criss-cross and weaved into a pattern.

Thicker, flexible strands are used as the base, while thinner twigs are used to form the outer part. The bamboo strands should neither be wet nor very dry as they could break. “We make sure that we pick the tender strands because they are more flexible to bend and mould. If the bamboo plant has some moisture, we let it dry in sunlight for some time so that the quality of the basket is not compromised”, said Devi, one of the basket weaver.

Weavers make variety of artefacts like “Panjaram”, a big sized basket to cover hens and chickens, “Koodai”, which is a medium sized basket for farmers and vendors to carry, sieve plates, flower baskets, mats and other crafts used for display. The life span of these bamboo products is five to six months or up to a year.

“We get advance orders from wholesale dealers to make baskets and mats. ‘Panjaram’ is usually ordered to make for poultry farms. Customers mention their requirements like size, shape, colour and we make as per their needs”, said another weaver.

The marketing of bamboo baskets and product is peak during festivals in Srirangam. The temple authorities ask these craftsmen to baskets required for the rituals.

These weavers make four to five baskets a day which depends on the pace with which they make and flair they possess. It is priced between Rs.50 to 150 based on the size.

At the end of the day, these weavers earn a meagre income of Rs. 200 to 300 which is hardly sufficient to make both ends meet for their families.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 12:16:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/making-baskets-for-a-living/article8665440.ece