The Famous Grass Mats of Pattamadai

July 22, 2012

 Silk mat / Pattu paai / Pattamadai Pai (mat) is a beautifully crafted floor mat.Every tamil family would be familiar with the pattu paai and may have had one at home.

Pattamadai is the neighbour village to Cheranmahadevi, ranges about 3 Kilometers from Cheranmahadevi and 20 Kilometers from Tirunelveli in Tamilnadu ..India. Patamadai resides along the banks of the river Tamaraparani. It is world famous for its silken mats woven from grass.

About The Mats (Pai) : 

The majority of mats made in here have cotton warps and korai wefts. Korai belongs to the sedge family of plants, Cyperaceae. Korai mats may be broadly divided into three categories. Coarse mats are rough in texture, relatively quick to weave and may be made using either a handloom or powerloom. Higher quality handloom mats are finer in texture. The highest quality have a texture akin to silk. To make such mats the korai is soaked in running water for up to a week until it begins to rot, the central pith is then scraped off and each stem split into fine strands, dried and dyed. The finer the mat desired, the longer the korai needs to soak and the thinner the weft strands will be. The number of warp threads also increases with finer mats.

Apart from the regular weaves and patterns, Pattamadai paais are made to order for wedding ceremonies. The bride and the groom's names and the wedding date are woven in to the mat make the occasion memorable. This particular handicraft is original to Pattamaadai, a small village in Thirunelveli district of Tamil Naadu, and hence its name. It is also called Korai or Gorai paai as it is made of a special kind of grass called "Korai/Gorai".

The Weaving :

The process of mat weaving is time consuming and painstaking. The art and craft of weaving and blending intricate designs of Pattamadai mats are considered unique to this region. "Korai' grass grows in swampy lands and riverbeds.


Processing the Korai grass :

Conventional method of mat making involves lengthy processes of drying, soaking, splitting and dyeing the grass. The harvest season fall during the months of September/ October and February/March . The grass  is cut while it is still green. Strips of grass are sun-dried and are not to exposed to humidity as they tend to turn black with the exposure. As the dried grass strips turn a yellowish green, they are boiled in a pot of water and then dried again. Bundles of  dried grass are then soaked in running water and kept below the surface of the water for three to seven days. This process makes the grass to swell up to three times its original size. After it is then dried again and then taken to a floor loom.  Finally a woven mat is dried in the sun for a short time before being polished.

There are three different categories of the silk mat available in the market and the classification depends on the weave: Coarse weave, medium and the fine weave. The outer skins of the grass is stripped to bring out the fine strand from within for weaving the finer variety.

The loom which consists of a warp supported by the mukali (means a tripod - in tamil )(a bamboo tripod). The weft of korai strands is inserted in the needle and made to pass over and under the warp of starched cotton threads according to the design, very similar to the process of weaving fabric. Water is used to soften the grass throughout the process.

In the picture below, you can see the supportive mukali and the mat (a work-in-progress) on the floor.



IMGP1453
Motifs and patterns :

Traditional colours include rich "Indian" colours : black , brown and red as these are the colours derived from sappan tree.  Dyed grass strands are woven into bold stripe patterns with a thick set of streaks on both ends to make conventional looking mats. Beautiful traditional motifs and designs bring out the luxurious look of these mats. I prefer the natural scent of these mats to the stinky plastic odor any day!

Over the years, traditional designs are giving way to contemporary patterns, designs and custom motifs.Traditional colours have been replaced by use of synthetic dyes which provide a wider colour choice (I am in favour of natural dyes).These paais are ideal for hot and humid climates and most importantly are eco-friendly (with natural dyes),



Traditionally, woven on hand-looms, these mats are now mass produced on power looms to meet domestic and international demand.These beautiful mats are weaved using cotton or silk in the weft. Predominant use of silk (pattu) thread for weaving gave it its other name - Silk mat or pattu paai. Use of silk thread gives a royal sheen and definite appeal to the mat. Look at the beautiful custom silk border in this mat !


Industry Overview :

The mat industry has gone through a cycle of transition from being most coveted to the most ignored and then back in demand. Efforts by a few organizations to promote this handicraft led to an influx of commercial interests. This cycle doesn't benefit any craft/art form, and the same applies to the Pattamadai mats industry as well.

Commercial weaving over the years have led to increased use of pure cotton and nylon threads instead of silk thread.Increased domestic and international Demand and supply imbalance eventually led to increased use of synthetic dyes, shorter product life cycles, and lesser focus on long term benefits for the weaver and the industry as a whole.

Off late, eco-conservationist organizations have taken interest in this matter and a few of these production houses are reverting back to traditional methods of dyeing and processing of the Korai grass. Efforts are being made by organizations in promoting use of natural dyes and motivating weavers.

You have a Choice :

Life is all about making right choices. One as simple as buying your yoga mat can make a difference on your carbon footprint. Do you know that a standard mat sold as being suitable for yoga is made of soft PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) a non earth friendly non bio degradable material. You must have noticed a strange stinky odour emanating out of a plastic mat, slipper or a bag for that matter. Imagine all the fumes this mat may be releasing into the air and its impact on air quality with in your house.Why live that way when you can make smart eco-friendly choices?

Yogis and Sages in India were known to have used straw mats for meditation. In fact, using a Dharba grass mat is considered auspicious in hindu homes. With major changes in lifestyle and the increased need for a cushy support for our bottoms, yoga mats have become a must have. Off late, people seem to "need"  Yoga pants and  yoga mat for their sessions. Kudos to all the ad gurus!

Keeping in tune with the current trend, the best we could do is to make earth friendly choices. Opt for a grass, straw, Palmyra leaf, cane, sea grass or a banana fiber mat. Buying these you would not only make a green choice, you would also be promoting local handicrafts depending on where you live. Because, every culture has something to which is local to that region. For example, we have at least 20 different grass or straw mat varieties available in India alone.

References and Extracts

Comments

sabatharishi rmesh

sabatharishi rmesh said:

i want weeding mat please give rate and full address and cell no

R.Venkateswaran., Guwahati

R.Venkateswaran., Guwahati said:

Beautiful ! Let us be proud of our handicrafts !

R Ram Mohan

R Ram Mohan said:

I wanted a pattu pai for my daughter’s marriage, scheduled on 9.5.2014. Will you please give me the rate and how to order?

govindan

govindan said:

pls let me know where i can purchase these grass / straw mats. i am at mangalore karnataka. online purchase is also suitable for me .

Sudheer

Sudheer said:

i want grass mat 28×42 feet size
please give rate and full address and cell no

v.suryanarayanan

v.suryanarayanan said:

i want weeding mat by parcel[courier post] from pattamadai, i know want rate per two mates also mention in wedding couples name in mates,kindly contact cell no 9445536579 [chennai]

lalitha

lalitha said:

kindly give your address and phone no.i want to order wdding mat

Uday

Uday said:

Colud you please give the details about mats and prices. At the same time give address and contact details in Hyderabad branches

Nothya

Nothya said:

I need a pattu pai , where is it available in Bangalore . Please let me know . Thanks

Mamatha

Mamatha said:

Beatiful art.. what more to ask when it is made of natural material :).
Could I pls get contact details to procure these?

Thanks!

Ndidhi

Ndidhi said:

Hi..i wanted 30 pcs on this mats..what will d cost please tell me as soon as possible..n do u do courier

Viswanathan T R

Viswanathan T R said:

I want to buy a pattamadai pattupai with the name of the bride and groom for my niece’s marriage. Please let me know the contact no. and address.
I am in coimbatore.

pramod

pramod said:

We want mattress made of korai grass and cotton fabric with cushion

ganga

ganga said:

we want pathamadai mat and other products from koai grass like letterholder, box

Parvathy Gopal

Parvathy Gopal said:

I want two pattupai for the wedding with gheir names on it. Kindly quote me rate. As i am staying in bombay kindly let me know whether u can deliver it to me. Your ckntact number and address may also be provided

thyagarajan

thyagarajan said:

please quote for a pattu pai for wedding with names and date included on pai
also inform charges for reaching to pune

phone 95610-59690

Sradha Chavara

Sradha Chavara said:

please, can i know the weaving areas contact number and place in thirunelveli

Nathichandran

Nathichandran said:

I want to sell korai wefts which is used as a raw material for manufacturing korai paai

Albertson

Albertson said:

Where can I purchase these mats??

Nagoor Ali

Nagoor Ali said:

i want the Grass Mats of Pattamadai
i am in orissa

Mukund

Mukund said:

Yes, where can we buy these in USA?
Many readers from all parts of India and the world have asked the same question in this column. No response?

usha prem

usha prem said:

want to buy one mat for wedding with names engraved on it. decorative mat. pl mail us the price with details

pavitra

pavitra said:

I would like to place an order for mats can you let know the rates and how to place order

haja

haja said:

I want to know about the sleeping mat price and size. I need 20 pcs

subramani

subramani said:

I need handicraft made with pai mat send me details with price wholesale purpose

Prabha

Prabha said:

Please give me the details of products and their prices … To place order… Do you have shop inchennai?

Arvind

Arvind said:

Beautiful! Is it available for online purchase?

himabala

himabala said:

hi… i got many dupattas and dresses from this site.. all are fabulous and fantastic which are very elegant and impressive collection in this site…but some are sold out wen we had seen .can i know wen it is been updated .pls give me mobile no to contact u to place order.pls pls plsssss……

Sindhu

Sindhu said:

I need a korai pai by courier to Bangalore. Can u provide the cost.

Guru

Guru said:

I need korai mats. Pls email me

shrinivasan.K

shrinivasan.K said:

i want whole sale give me address and mobile number. thanks.

Aishwarya

Aishwarya said:

Hi. I need the silk boarder pattu mat. Please let me know how can I get that and price of the same.

Kamini

Kamini said:

I want to buy these Eco friendly mats. Is it possible to buy it online? If yes, kindly share the items and prices for the same. Thanks…

Gulshan

Gulshan said:

Hi…want to purchase river grass products. ..let me know how to contact u at the earliest. ..

Meena

Meena said:

I would like to know if you have an outlet in Chennai?

K KALIMUTHU

K KALIMUTHU said:

I need wedding mat .can i have the phone to contact .

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.