Least people would have been familiar about the handicraft items made from coconut shell. Coconut in Hindu culture is considered very auspicious and used in every traditional ritual. Before entering the new house or during a Hindu marriage ceremony, coconut is put in ‘Havan Agni’ (fire) for ‘Grah Shanti Pooja’ (Prayer performed to make peace with the planets). Coconut is also broken while performing the prayer of the new car. Before starting any new business or venture a coconut is broken. Whenever starting or buying anything new and big coconut is broken and offered to offering to God as it is called as ‘Sriphal’ – God’s fruit. Breaking a coconut signifies that any obstacles may be broken and can be easily conquered. In this belief you smash a coconut. So coconut is high in its traditional values. Also coconut in itself yields high economic value too.
This plant belongs to Palm family and almost found in tropical region. Everyone knows that coconut is utilized daily in southern part of India. Coconut water, coconut kernel, coconut oil, shell, fibrous coir, every part of coconut is used in various purpose in southern India. In rituals, health and beauty products, and cooking purpose its utilization is seen throughout India. Coconut shell and fiber are considered in their everyday waste. Its shell and husks are burned to repel mosquitoes. But, many artists made their mind to create something new from this waste and reuse shell in a very decorative way.
Artists use their creativity to convert this hard shell into decorative pieces. This art of making decorative items from coconut shell is practiced in Kerala of India at higher level. Coconut shell craft is also practiced in other states of India like Goa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands but it is very popular in Kerala, as Brass Broidered products are made here which includes cups, earrings, buttons, flower vases, lunch boxes, lamp stands, hanging lamps, decorative wall pieces by the artists. Coconut shell buttons are also made which are very famous in various countries.
In this craft, coconut shell is first removed and then cleaned properly. Then artists draw the design on it. This design is then cut with cutting tool and the cutting task is completed by finishing the edges of design by sand paper or filer. An artist while making vase will attach cutting pieces of shell to give proper look at the top and bottom. To make cup he will attach handle to the cup, hook on hanging pieces and likewise decorative items are ready with their shape. Once done with the designing, it’s time to paint. The pieces are painted with different colors to match the design. And to give some extra touch, mirror pieces or other decorative items are glued on it. This is how artist’s skills design beautiful and useful handicraft items.
In making broidered products artists requires great efforts as the shell is extremely hard like wood. Totally removing fibers is not easy task but it is cleaned with different rubbing tools. Artists also use sand paper to clean the fibers. Three eye of coconut is also used to fit hangings for hanging pieces. Recently ‘Brass broidered coconut shell craft‘ of Kerala is registered by the Government of India. This craft is not only famous in Indian culture but it is also practiced in many countries around the world such as Sri Lanka, Mexico, Maldives, Thailand and Columbia.
In a city ‘Morbi’ of Gujarat in India ‘Prafful Chandra Dave’ retired ST worker without having the knowledge of this craft made 250 items of Coconut Shell. He was unknown about his creativity which is now a part of his success. He first made boat for his daughter then animals shape pieces frog, tortoise, different flower and plant shape like “Suryamukhi” sunflower and “Coconut tree”. He is more interested to keep his creation in museum. Like him many people have art in them, but are unaware of it. Nothing worth having was ever achieved without Effort.