Art is essentially a celebration of life and decorating homes, sculpting idols of Gods, adorning chariots for village processions is all intrinsic to everyday living. The village is also known for its art of making exquisite sarees called the Kandangi handloom sarees Crafted out of thick, coarse cotton, Kandangi sarees are capable of withstanding the roughest wash! Checks and temple borders are favoured patterns in hues of earthy reds, oranges, chromes and browns. Those encouraging the revival of this art offer contemporary designs, but the traditional weaving families take pride in producing the patterns most favoured in the villages around.
. Rich history and dramatic culture of South India is woven into each warp and weft of this cotton sari, lending it prominence amongst the yards of Indian tradition.
The local artisans have a panache for wood sculpting, which is best reflected in the exquisite and intricate carvings on the doorways of their homes. Surya Pallakai, a carving of Goddess Lakshmi, placed above the main door denotes a hearty welcome to the awe-inspiring Chettinad home. Wood artisans also produce delicately carved sculptures, statuettes and artifacts.
Athangudi tiles These tiles are a testimony to the rich cultural heritage of the Chettiar community, who effectively adapted many influences to their own brand of local craftsmanship. The designs and colors used in the tiles have been retained since the ancient times. The artisans say that the secret to their appeal is owing to the unique sand. Cement, baby jelly and sand along with synthetic oxides make the composition of the tile.
, named after their place of manufacture in Chettinad, are handmade in myriad colours and patterns by a unique process that uses local soil. Visit a tile making unit to witness the magic of sand being converted into tiles. Under the tourism initiative, support given to artisans and documentation of the art has contributed to its revival.
An interesting tradition in Tamilnadu, practiced till date, is that of the bride carrying the 'Kuthu Villakku' (silver or brass oil lamp), to her in-law's house, as a symbol of her bringing properity to her new family. Owing to the demand in the market and competition, these lamps come in varying styles now - Yaanai Villakku (elephant carrying a lamp), Thavalum Pillai (Crawling Krishna) and so on. Demands for these lamps have also increased in foreign countries, where many Indians have migrated.