These Madurai dots are all ready to go places


Inspired by an NGO Bhuj, a municipal collective brings the dying art of Sungudi to life

Inspired by an NGO Bhuj, a municipal collective brings the dying art of Sungudi to life

Madurai is known for its “malli”, but it’s the rich tradition of bespoke Sungudi hand weaving that needs to be given a wider platform, says Dr. G. Natchiar, browsing the exquisite collection of textiles on display at the LAICO auditorium here on Saturday.

The exhibition showcases the work of Tharagai, a collective that has been working to revive this traditional craft since 2014. It started with 15 members, after a group of friends on a trip to Bhuj in Gujarat visited the premises of Shrujan, an NGO working to bring Gujarat handicrafts to the world stage.

Although in 2012 the World Craft Council launched a project to revive Sungudi, it needed momentum to drive it forward and it is this dynamic energy that Tharagai aims to provide.

“Sungudi was born out of the intrinsic design that makes up the ‘kolam’,” explains Sridevi Suresh, project coordinator. “To keep this art alive, we have created two clusters in rural areas from where we source raw material and provide weavers with designs which are then tied and dyed to make these exquisite cotton sarees,” it adds. -she.

Therapeutic effect

It was the ergonomics of art that prompted the group to exploit the skills of people with disabilities. For this, they partnered with MS Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation. It has worked wonders not only in creating a skilled workforce, but also in rehabilitating the mentally handicapped. A success story told by the group is how an inmate from the Chellamuthu Trust returned to a normal life after experiencing the therapeutic benefits of engaging in the binding process.

Tharagai adds value to this traditional art – from wallets to carry bags to drawstring pouches that boldly bear the signature dots, Sungudi as an art form has surely become more intrinsic to the changing times. The design element that Tharagai brought is reflected in the way this cotton fabric is woven with other materials, resulting in a fusion that appeals to the younger generation.

It was this attempt by Tharagai to infuse life into the dying art form that led people like Dr. Natchiar to support the initiative.

The Tharagai exhibition is expected to serve as a springboard for Madurai’s quintessential product to go global.


About Author

Comments are closed.