From the beautiful kannadi paaya (mats shimmering with mirrors) to baskets, the bamboo weaving skills of artisans inhabiting the Western Ghats are the expression of resilient livelihoods.
Every product derived from natural sources possess a narrative of enduring hard work behind it as these are predominantly the product of produce harvested and picked up from the deep forests but still finding the right market and adding value to the merchandise produced by indigenous communities is indispensable.
Artisans of tiny hamlets within the Edamalayar valley in Kerala, have been scaling the rain forest and swift rivulets within Western to gather bundles of reed bamboo which are woven into beautiful kannadi paaya (mats bedecked with mirrors) and baskets for personal use. For the Muthuvar tribe, which they belong to, reed bamboo weaving is an ability handed by means of generations.
Now, these conventional mats, together with other organic cosmetics and artisan merchandise from the forest are getting the opportunities of exploring new markets due to the tribal communities becoming a member of palms with village collectives, volunteers of Forest Post which is a web-based offshoot of the 16-year-old River Analysis Centre (RRC), explains how they need to “convey the message of conservation and resilient livelihood.
The livelihood support program initiated by the organization with the support from UNDP India aims to strengthen market linkages and help the women gain a sense of ownership, as well as pride in their skills and knowledge of the forest. The tribal women and men of six villages namely Karikkadav, Anapantham, Chimmony, Kallichitra, Adichilthotti, and Vazhachal are associated with Fores Post.
Images by The Hindu