Pattamadai is a special grade town panchayat that falls under the Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. An important institution synonymous with the town is the Pattamadai Lebbai Mat Weavers Co-operative Society. The society was incorporated in 1953 with 300 weavers. Members of the society are primarily engaged in hand weaving of artistic Pattamadai mats while they also train artisans keen to learn the craft.
The mats are handwoven using the unique Pattamadai grass native to the region with pain-staking efforts. While fine cotton or silk threads are used in the weft, intricately split korai grass is used in the warp to weave these mats. The grass is prepared for weaving after a lengthy process which includes harvesting, drying, soaking, splitting and then finally dyeing it in the desired colours.
Muthukrishnan is one member of the society, three generations of whose family have been practicing this craft. The artisans work as per the prevailing trends, adding a contemporary touch to the traditional designs. The korai is dyed as per colour preferences of the customers and blended with complementing hues to create eye-catching patterns while conventional traditional motifs and patterns add to the vibrancy of the mats.
Currently the society has only 100 members, and weavers such as Muthukrishnan are trying to spread awareness about their products which are eco-friendly, sustainable and made with much skill, dedication and hard work. An age old craft, the society hopes to keep it thriving for many more centuries to come.