Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Manjal, M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation. Chennai

We were in Chennai for a couple of days and despite our hectic schedule, one place that I needed to visit was the M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation.

M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation is a non-profit organization run by Ms. Visalakshi Ramaswamy, that supports and undertakes documentations of, and works towards the revival of rural crafts, textiles and architecture that are fast disappearing today.


I reached Manjal, their craft store one hot afternoon and as I pushed the glass door into the cool room I was welcomed by blocks of vibrant colours! 

Square niches' in the wall saturated with colourful woven baskets, bags and boxes in various shades. 
The crafts supported by the Foundation include the Chettinad Kottan which is the traditional palm leaf basket, handmade tiles made in the village of Athangudi, the Kandanghi sari both in cotton and silk, the Chettinad lime-egg plaster and plastic baskets.

The colours tantalized the eyes while woven baskets transported me to a bygone-era where in the Sourthern India, the grandmothers in their leisure hours would weave the plastic wires into bags.
"The traditional Palmyra basketry of Chettinad, 'Kottans' were once woven by the women or ‘Aachis’ of affluent families and found a place in every Chettinad activity, from ritual and ceremony to daily use. Over the passing of time, kottans, often decorated with beadwork and crochet work, slowly stopped being made. The Foundation has revived the craft in its’ original colours and patterns by teaching it to a group of village women from Keelayapatti"~ M.Rm.Rm Cultural Foundation


Beautiful designs and patterns on Kottan baskets



"Plastic baskets are the latest innovation that the Foundation has undertaken. The baskets are woven by some of the women from the Kottan project who have difficulty working with palm leaf and who depend on these baskets for their livelihood."

"These brightly coloured baskets are washable and very durable, and being reusable, do their bit towards the environment. Available in different sizes, these multi-purpose baskets may be put to a variety of uses from gift packaging to home accessories like laundry baskets, plant holders, waste-paper baskets, beach bags and market baskets."
~ M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation


I completely fell in love with these mini-coin purses!
Must confess, I was a bit of a kid in a colourful candy store;-) I did pick up a few beautiful products for my home and for friends.

A tiny little plastic basket that seems to have many uses:-)

Some gorgeous Kottan basket boxes for my beads and bangles...

I must thank the very gracious people at Manjal for allowing me to take photographs of their lovely store and share them with readers of Rang Decor.


Great admiration for Ms. Visalakshi Ramaswamy for an initiative like M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation that is dedicated to reviving rich art & crafts of our country and for helping sustain the talented artisans by providing a livelihood. Kudos!

So do drop by at their store if you are in Chennai or visit them on Facebook~

(Images by Arch)

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice...!! Mini coin purse is very nice and cute!!!!
Rgds,
Mangala

pRiyA said...

Archana, I think the things in Manjal are very pretty. I like best the plastic baskets. I hope they open a branch in Bangalore eventually.

M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation said...

Thank you for the write-up and the beautiful photos, Archana Srinivas!

@Priya: Our products are available at Yellow Button in Bangalore :)

notyet100 said...

Wow,..I luved the collection,..:)

Ambika said...

Manjal is a beautiful name! Loved the photographs. To me, the multicolored Kottan baskets and the vibrant shopping bag are the loveliest! So this gives me another reason to visit Yellow Button in Blore.

Shweta Sharma said...

Love Love Love the colours and beautiful designs of baskets. I wish i could buy all of them.

I wonder how you discover these one of kind gems. Fantastic post!

Vivek Shrivastava said...

The bright colours in all these products are very attractive. It is a delight to see dedicated people like Ms. Ramaswamy working towards reviving rural crafts. Would it have been possible to avoid using plastic wires in the new baskets from the Foundation ?

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic effort by the foundation! Gorgeous display of rural craftsmanship and thank you for informing us about this.
As always..lovely post in a lovely blog!
e2d

Arch at Rang said...

Vivek~ Agree that we all need to go the eco-friendly way, but here plastic has been used to create such wonderful craft and the fact that these bags can be re-used over and over again scores in my humble opinion:-)

M.Rm.Rm. Cultural Foundation said...

Thank you, Archana; your point is ours as well. The plastic basket line was started because not all of the women can weave in palm leaf - it is a long and laborious process, and if they are not deft with their hands their baskets are not up to standard. Weaving in plastic is simpler, and it allows these women to also earn a living.

As Archana said, our baskets are reusable and are very sturdy. Sometimes we have customers who come back after years to just get the handles repaired because the basket is still perfectly usable! And at the end of its (very long!) life, the basket can be melted down and extruded into new tape - and can be used to make a new basket!

Vanu said...

I have never seen these bright colored n beautiful collection in Delhi. Wish i could buy all of them.And what makes them different is they are eco-friendly n handmade! Amazing!
cant miss the things n places you capture. Joined your blog :)

Anupama Puneeth said...

wonderful post Arch. I remember my granny used to weave these baskets and I used it as my lunch bag for many years back in school !

Vinita said...

Did you know that your blog has been mentioned on apartment therapy.(Passage to India)

Anitha said...

I want them ALL :)
The baskets are so cute and pretty Archana. Thanks for letting us know about this store.

~Anitha.

Kavitha said...

Oh what a beautiful post. Ive been following the MRmRm page on facebook, and been telling myself i should visit. Any idea whether they are planning to start one in Bangalore?

Vivek Shrivastava said...

When I visit Chennai, I'll drop in and buy the plastic baskets. Thanks for answering my doubts on the blog, Archana and the Foundation.
rgds
Vivek

Nisha said...

as a chennaite ths s a new infrmn...dono hw i missd sch a nice shop...thx 4r sharing

chondamma.cariappa said...

Happy, bright and delightful :)

Deb @ indiapiedaterre said...

I've never heard of this shop. Thank you so much for sharing it. I will definitely put it on my "must visit" list next time in Chennai. I see here products are in Bangalore too -- fantastic -- may be there in a few months!

Michelle said...

I stumbled on to your blog today, and I want you to know how amazing it is. The photography is beautiful, and although I live in Houston, Texas, I feel I have an inside view of a world I've always wanted to visit. I've bookmarked it, and I'll be back (in virtual travel) often.

julie said...

Amazing stuff ! But usually this kinda stuff though "non-profit" happens to be expensive. I hope they can put prices for the products in their gallery.

Shri said...

Our grandparents had this 'plastic kottas' for everything! Beautiful!

Parisha said...

Hi Archana, this is the first time that I'm reading your blog. I don't know from where I came across your blog about Manjal. It was really a treat to watch these bags as you've taken very beautiful pics. I've never seen such beautiful colourful bags & baskets till now. I'm so fascinated that I feel like flying to this place & buy mini-coin purses & basket boxes....Wish I could buy them online!

&, one more thing I would like to tell you that you've decorated your house very beautifully. It's like chefs decorating wedding cakes....hi hi hi hi....

I generally don't get serious towards blogs (except those related to cooking) because I find them lil-bit boring but I think I'm hooked to Rang-Decor. Also, I'm planning to take out some time to read your previous blogs.