Reviving Traditional Art Products of Tamil Nadu
Pattamadai mat, a mat made by weaving or interlacing korai grass with the cotton threads, has been found to have soundproofing properties that can be used for noise guarding classrooms as well as recording studios against external noise disturbances.
The newfound utility of this mat, whose demand as a floor mat has fallen, can help revive the age-old village tradition in, which largely involves women. The entire process of making this mat right, from harvesting korai grass from the river banks of Thamirabarani to finishing it up by hand weaving on floor loom, is carried out by Women of the Pattamadai village Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.
The research team from Rajalakshmi College of Engineering led by Dr. Kalaiselvi studied the density and the structure of different types of mats (20 counts, 50 counts, 100 & 140 counts) and found them appropriate for making buildings soundproof.
Acoustical properties such as absorption coefficient (α), noise reduction coefficient (NRC), and sound transmission class (STC), of the mat, were quantified using standardized equipment (B&K Sound level meter). The sag resistance and durability were also checked by installing it in conference halls. The fabricating process was simplified by fixing a modular size which helped optimize mass production with minimal wastage of raw material.
Mrs. Haiwa Bheevi, a korai mat craftswoman, and her team worked with the research team to document the crafting process of the mat, raw material acquisition, weaving techniques, traditional motifs, dyeing process, extraction of natural colors, and floor loom set up with funding from SHRI (Science Heritage Research Initiative) program of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Ergonomic floor chairs suitable for the exclusive loom setup, movable floor chairs, and so on were designed by research scholars Ar Rakhshana & Ar Deva Sahayam, providing a comfortable work environment for women, especially during pregnancy and menstruation.
The Banu Pattu Pai centre conducts skill development programme among weavers and also supports the weaving community exposing it to experimentation with new colors and designs and providing design services from research team to promote the craft in the global market.
Ar Asmaa & Ar Poornima from Rajalakshmi College of Engineering documents designs, patterns, and natural dyes with its local name to maintain its originality. These indigenous patterns add value and uniqueness to the acoustical panels. The teams have also patched up the mats in laptop bags, sling bags, clutches, paper files, and so on. Kural, a craftsmen boutique, is working as a bridge to help out craftsmen in marketing the products. Designers from Kural are working on new designs and preparing to exhibit the crafts with newly designed mats. These new dimensions to the Pattamadai mat will not only revive this age-old practice but also fetch international market for the products.