Handicraft items have a charm of their own, especially because they are not mass products created in a factory. Each product is a result of individual creativity, meticulousness and patience. The creativity of Indian artisans can never be overstated. Such is their knack of appreciating art, that everyday items or produce which most people would probably consider waste are being embraced by them to create new things. One of such things is ‘banana fibre’ which is obtained from the banana plant. This art of making handicrafts out of banana fibre is mainly practiced in the southern part of India, around the Kanyakumari region.
A young Banana plant with leaves is considered auspicious in the Indian culture. The banana leaf is commonly used as a plate in the South states. Now, besides serving this purpose, the banana plant is finding its way into people’s homes in the form of handcrafted products out of its fibres!
Banana fibre is acquired by the local artisans by separating the dark bark of banana plant (known as ‘shorba’) into brown, cream and dark colors. It is then soaked in water so as to make it soft and therefore, easy to work on. Fibre strips are then extracted from the ‘shorba’ and then its twining is done and made into ropes which are then dyed. These colored ropes or yarns are hand woven or are crocheted to make beautiful products out of them. Even mirrors are woven into the rope to make the work more attractive and impressive.
The artisans who work with banana fibres were initially given training by the Eco Green unit, Coimbatore with the support of the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India. This craft is mainly being carried out by the rural locals of south India.
Many items such as table mats, wall hangings, bags and mats are made out of the banana fibre. These items are creatively made using bright colors to give them an attractive look. These products are quite durable also.
Till some time back, pattu sari was also made out of the banana fibre, but because now it has become obsolete as this traditional sari is being replaced by the modern ones.
The products made out of the natural fibres of the banana trunk are eco-friendly and have no adverse effect of any kind on mankind, nor do they disturb the ecological balance. Therefore, the use of such natural products should be encouraged to have a safe and happy earth!!