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|| Sital-pati (Maranta dichotoma) || Madur (Cyperus Tegetum & C. Pangorie) || Bamboo-n-Cane || Jute || Kantha || Shola-pith ||


Sitalpati - matress

Sitalpati - matress

Sitalpati, a kind of mat, is perhaps the most notable and popular product among the handicrafts of Cooch Behar. Unlike other kinds of mat woven in Bengal, Sitalpati is more expensive. Barokodali, Ghughumari and Nakkati-Pushnadanga of Cooch Behar district are the most important centers of Sitalpati. Besides this is also available in states of Tripura, Assam and in the neighboring country of Bangladesh.

The word 'Sital-pati' means cool-mat. The makers are usually Kayasthas in caste, not a traditional craftspeople caste. The raw material is the Mutra cane (Maranta dichotoma)

Sitalpati - matress

The green cane is kept soaking in water before it is slashed/sliced into thin strips for making the pati. Then the fine strips are woven by skillfully joining and interlacing to shape into beautiful mats. 

The quality of the Sitalpati mat is judged by its glossiness, smoothness and fineness of texture. It is said that the best kind of Sitalpati is so smooth that even a snake cannot glide over it. 

Sitalpati - matress

Sitalpati - matress

This particular quality of mat is particularly suited for the warm and humid climate of this part of West Bengal. Sitalpati mats render a feeling of coolness (thus rendering the name 'Sital' or 'Sheetal') to the person sitting or sleeping on it, and are intimately linked with everyday rural life. But besides being a rural craft, this is now available outside the rural hinterlands. The aesthetic appeal and utilitarian value of these mats have made them increasingly visible in large towns and metropolitan cities thus expanding their traditional market.

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Among the numerous different varieties of mats  woven and used, the Madur mat - made from the "Madur Kathi" reed (Cyperus Tegetum and C. Pangorie) that grows in the swampy area is another widely used household item. The warp is cotton/jute thread and the weft is the madur kathi. Crafts of very fine textured mats made of carefully selected reeds with beautiful geometric designs are indeed pleasures to the eye.

different kinds of Madurs

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Many varieties of Bamboo as well as cane are available in Cooch Behar. These are extensively used for handicrafts apart from building thatched houses in the rural areas.

Chalunis
Dhamas & Chalunis (netted-baskets/containers) of different sizes and shapes, made of whole or uncut bamboo/cane, are traditionally used extensively in the rural areas for the carrying, storing and measuring of grains. Apart from this Dhama work is now being adapted to various shapes for use by planters, fruit-sellers and bread-bakers.

Domestic items like fruit-trays,  paper-baskets, bowls and home decorative like arm-chairs, sofa-chairs, low-seats (Morhas), table-mats, waste paper baskets, magazine racks & lot of decorative furniture are made out of cane/bamboo.

Bamboo crafts
Bamboo-crafts as above in the form of vase, bed-lamp. 

The cane is heated and bend over a charchole fire and then coiled together by the expert craftsmen giving the required shape, after which it is smoked carefully to make it insect and waterproof.
Cane Tray
Cane tray as above may be used as trays for various purposes.

 
cane container

This kind of Cane kunki may be used as pen/pencil stands apart from measuring grains in rural areas.

Coochbehar Rajbari made of Bamboo strips
Model of Cooch Behar "Rajbari" (palace) made out of bamboo-strips              Designer : Lakhan Barman

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jute bags

Jute, a bio-degradable product, is grown almost all over West Bengal. Exquisite jute articles are made in Cooch Behar by the Polia and Rajbanshi tribals. Jute items come in a range of fascinating designs and sizes. Crafts Council of West Bengal has pioneered the craft of jute embroidery by training about 30 women under training programmes of Govt. of India and World Crafts Council. A range of items like table mats, bags, bottle holders and cushions covers are made using these intricate embroideries.

< Jute bags that can be used for various carrying purposes. jute cushion-covers

Cushion covers used as bed room decorative.

 
jute bag
Jute bag
jute slippers
Jute Chappals
penstand
Jute Pen-stand
jute ornaments
Jute Ornaments
jute covers
Jute mats
jute Doll
Jute doll
Jute Holders
Comb-holder, Spoon-holder,
Flower pot-holder 
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Kantha

Kantha is an indegenous household craft, stitched by the rural women. It is also referred to as the thrift craft as it was usually done on layers of old cotton 'dhotis/sarees' with threads drawn out from the saree border for softness. These are then embroidered all over. Thereafter the beneath-side is covered by stitching single-coloured cloth for making it more durable in case of front-side Kanthas. More fine the embroidery, more is the sophistication effect. Hence the real value of Kantha embroidery lies in its fine craftsmanship and vignettes of daily folk life motifs being a favorite of the embroiderers. Nowadays it is usually commercially done on a single layer of new silk cloth using new thread, but the Crafts Council strictly adheres to the traditional three-layered quilting technique.

Some of the popular Kantha pieces are stoles, bedspreads, wall hangings, cushion covers, napkins and beach bags.

Kantha Kanta-stitch Jacket Kantha Bedsheet

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Sholar Ganesh
Shri Ganesh

Shola-pith is a kind of very light pithy reed found in the marsh lands of Eastern India. The Craftsmen or 'malakars' work with their special iron knives or 'kath' to fashion intricate objects out of it.

The core of this reed, which is pure white in colour, is exposed when the outer layer of the stalk is shaved. The core is light, porous, soft, and pliable and can be shaped to suit the imagination of the artisan. Skilled craftsmen shape this reed into many objects: scaled down models of temples, churches and mosques, carved images of Gods/Goddess (like Durga, Kali, Ganesh and so on), marriage headgear ("Topor" & "Mukut"), flowers and garlands, toys and mobiles are all crafted from this reed.

Sholar Durga

Apart from toys and images, big and small, some shola-pith craftsmen also create items that form an integral part of most of the major religious rituals - mainly in the form of "Solar Saaj" - which is the ornamentation and decoration for sacred images. This latter form uses foils, sequins, beads or artificial pearls mounted on cupboard. Since these foils were once used to be imported from Germany by post or 'dak' the decoration came to be known as "Daker Saaj".

Durga
Goddess Durga in glass box

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