Artefacts of Chettinad

On May 30, 2018

Perching on the Southern part of Tamil Nadu, Chettinad is home to a community famous for its affinity towards art and craft. As the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars, Chettinad is renowned for its huge and beautiful mansions, colourful culture, exceptional clan temples and its tantalizing cuisine.

Chettinad Art & Culture - Chidambara Vilas

Though the clan temples and extravagantly large mansions are the most alluring aspects of Chettinad, for the people who obsess over local arts and crafts, it offers a wide array of options to behold, as well. The cultural heritage and way of living of the Chettiar community are largely visible through the local art and craft forms of Chettinad.

The affinity of the Chettiars towards arts and crafts can be called a tradition transpired through their culture. While most artefacts may be considered obsolete, those found in Chettinad are still used by the people living in those areas. This is what makes them such a great joy to understand and learn more about.

The leaves of the doub palm are used to create Kottans that have a wide range of uses in the lives of the people of Chettinad. The kottans created using the leaves of the doub palm effectively combine craft and utility together. The kottans were produced in varying colours and dyes are used to colour them. The kottans used for a wide range of occasions, especially during marriages and the Kottans used in such occasions were embellished further using beads and other ornamental items.

There also is a weaving community in Chettinad that produce exceptional sarees. The weaver’s colony is the place where most of the weavers stay and indulge in weaving attractive sarees. Though there were several people weaving sarees before, due to the lack of proper economic compensations, most have stopped weaving and sought other professions.

During the Sevvai Perum Thiruvizha festival, terracotta models of animals such as cows and horses are made and ornated. These models are made locally for the purpose of worship during the festival. Though it is specifically made for the festival, it is also a derivative of the affinity of the community towards crafting.

Athangudi in Chettinad is another important cluster where tile making art happens. Inspired by various tiles and designs used in several European countries, the tile making process is ingenious to Chettinad. Being a rare variety of tiles that are handmade, the tiles are demanded greatly by people all over the nation.

Chettinad also makes several kitchen utensils from clay, wood and metal and these utensils are even used today. A wide range of kitchen items can be bought from Chettinad such as the vegetable cutter, spice box, papad maker, coconut grater and spoon holder along with several others.

As a region that breathes each of its breath tethered through cultural heritage and temple customs, there are several items made from brass and bronze used in these temples. These artefacts adorn a wide range of artistic expressions based on the diverse flora and fauna of the region, Hindu mythology and several abstract patterns and drawings.