We were in Chennai for a couple of days and despite our hectic schedule, one place that I needed to visit was the M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation.
M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation is a non-profit organization run by Ms. Visalakshi Ramaswamy, that supports and undertakes documentations of, and works towards the revival of rural crafts, textiles and architecture that are fast disappearing today.
I reached Manjal, their craft store one hot afternoon and as I pushed the glass door into the cool room I was welcomed by blocks of vibrant colours!
Square niches' in the wall saturated with colourful woven baskets, bags and boxes in various shades.
The crafts supported by the Foundation include the Chettinad Kottan which is the traditional palm leaf basket, handmade tiles made in the village of Athangudi, the Kandanghi sari both in cotton and silk, the Chettinad lime-egg plaster and plastic baskets.
The colours tantalized the eyes while woven baskets transported me to a bygone-era where in the Sourthern India, the grandmothers in their leisure hours would weave the plastic wires into bags.
"The traditional Palmyra basketry of Chettinad, 'Kottans' were once woven by the women or ‘Aachis’ of affluent families and found a place in every Chettinad activity, from ritual and ceremony to daily use. Over the passing of time, kottans, often decorated with beadwork and crochet work, slowly stopped being made. The Foundation has revived the craft in its’ original colours and patterns by teaching it to a group of village women from Keelayapatti"~ M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation
Beautiful designs and patterns on Kottan baskets
"Plastic baskets are the latest innovation that the Foundation has undertaken. The baskets are woven by some of the women from the Kottan project who have difficulty working with palm leaf and who depend on these baskets for their livelihood."
"These brightly coloured baskets are washable and very durable, and being reusable, do their bit towards the environment. Available in different sizes, these multi-purpose baskets may be put to a variety of uses from gift packaging to home accessories like laundry baskets, plant holders, waste-paper baskets, beach bags and market baskets."
~ M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation
I completely fell in love with these mini-coin purses!
Must confess, I was a bit of a kid in a colourful candy store;-) I did pick up a few beautiful products for my home and for friends.
A tiny little plastic basket that seems to have many uses:-)
Some gorgeous Kottan basket boxes for my beads and bangles...
...and a huge woven plastic bag that will always remind me of my grandmom and to carry my own vibrant shopping bag!
I must thank the very gracious people at Manjal for allowing me to take photographs of their lovely store and share them with readers of Rang Decor.
Great admiration for Ms. Visalakshi Ramaswamy for an initiative like M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation that is dedicated to reviving rich art & crafts of our country and for helping sustain the talented artisans by providing a livelihood. Kudos!
So do drop by at their store if you are in Chennai or visit them on Facebook~
(Images by Arch)