Cluster Detail
Tamil Nadu     Pondicherry     Puducherry


A cluster is defined as a geographic concentration(city/town/few adjacent villages and their adjoining areas)of units producing near similar products and facing common opportunities and threats.An artisan cluster is defined as geographically concentrated (mostly in villages/townships)household units producing handicraft/handloom products.In a typical cluster, such producers often belong to a traditional community, producing the long-established products for generations.Indeed, many artisan clusters are centuries old Artisan.

About Puducherry Cluster:-

Puducherry Cluster falls under Tamil Nadu State in Pondicherry district.

The Puducherry cluster is able to form 550 plus Artisans & 23 SHGs supporting the strong work force.The mobilisation gains momentum day by day.  Puducherry Cluster is famous for Clay Craft, Stone Carving, Grass, Leaf, Reed & Fiber, Leather and Wood  Crafts.






Clay Craft:-


Clay Crafts of Tamil Nadu are famed for making terracotta items with a wide range of variety ranging from utilitarian items to decorative pieces that catch the fancy of modern and urban people. The prominent centers of Clay craft of TamilNadu are located in Chennai, Kanchipuram and parts of Arcot district. Vellore in north Arcot district has gained popularity for black and red earthenware’s created with excellent artistic charm. Kanchipuram is also a well-known clay-toy making centre. Black pottery in Usilampatti, Madurai is an ancient craft form. The articles in this form of clay crafts are painted with a special yellow material. Panruti in south Arcot is renowned for an array of clay works that ranging from large figures of deities to toys and other items. The exclusivity of this particular type of pottery lies in its creation of highly artistic shapes, use of vibrant colors and brilliant adornment. The artisans give the toys a modern look by decorating these toys with modern dresses and oscillating-heads.


A special kind of toy called `Gundu Chettiar is believed to bring good fortune and is widely available in the local markets. The toys are also used for religious purposes. The toys or dolls which are used in the festival of Dussehra are usually made of terracotta.


The clay crafts of Tamil Nadu have a wide variety of clay items to offer and the skilled handling of the artisans give the clay items a different appeal. Even the very common clay pipe chillum is made into a notable item both through its elegant shape and its deep blue or green varnish. Apart from these items, the artisans of this place are adept in creating water jugs, tableware items including tea and dinner sets, ashtrays, beautifully decorated flower vases and decorative animal figures and paperweights.



Raw Material’s Clay Craft:-

Basic Material: Red clay (traditional), china clay, ball clay, plastic clay, glass, gum.
Decorative Material: Feldspar, quartz, marble or calcite, zinc oxide, barium carbonate.
Coloring Material: Blue & black (copper or cobalt oxide), brown (iron oxide), pink or violet (manganese oxide), green (copper & chromoxide).


Clay’s Process:-


Clay and Chemicals mix together to create a thick viscous mixture that is poured in moulds and shaped into myriad forms, be it a baby Krishna stealing a dollop of butter ,or a laughing Buddha or the eternal favorite, Ganesha. The Ceramic figurines are painted in bright hues and blasted in a furnace for few hours; the finished product travels across the country especially during Dusshera.

In Tamil Nadu, waste paper pulp is mixed with local clay and beaten in to a soft substance, which is then rolled in to thin malleable sheets. Life sized dolls; scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, images of gods and goddesses are among the many paper - mache items that are made in Tamil Nadu. After moulding the papier - mache pulp, the articles are dipped in a thin solution of paper pulp and white clay and then painted in oil or watercolor.



Clay’s Techniques:-

The clay crafts of Tamil Nadu have a tradition of making clay toys as well. Making of this clay items need special care and a few steps are followed while creating these toys. On the first level, plaster of Paris is mixed with tapioca powder to form a paste which is dried till it can be rolled into layers. This paste is then transformed into moulds. Rock clay is used after being properly moistened. Then this is pushed into the mould dusted with French chalk powder to make it easily removable. This mould is then exposed to heat and then the final mould is prepared. After preparing the mould, the artisans give shape to the different items as per his desires. The items are then colored by the women.




Stone Carving:-

Granite is easily available in Tamil Nadu and a large number of temples are carved of this stone. Pallava stone carvings which show a high degree of skill and craftsmanship evolved in the 6th century and the rock-cut caves of Mamallapuram, stone rathas/chariots and the stone shore temples are part of this expression.

Granite images have been essential for the construction of the fixed consecrated icons. The artisans around Mamallapuram chisel great blocks of granite to produce massive pillars as well as small icons. Stone carving is also practiced in other parts of Tamil Nadu like Thirunelveli, Ramnad, Madurai and North Arcot districts. The sculptors belong to the Vishwakarma or Kammaalar community.


Stone Carving‘s Raw Materials:-


Basic Material : Sajjar pathar, moss agate, agate oxides.
Basic Material : White marble, sand stone, colours, file, saw, chisel, polish, hammer.
Basic Material : Green stone, multani mitti, stone slab, oil, cloth.
Decorative Material : looking glasses, shining leaves, sandpaper.
Colouring Material : water colours.
Basic Material : Soap stone, sand stone, hard stones, granite, Red sand stone
Basic Material : Variety of stones, file, saw, chisel, polish, hammer
Colouring Material : Colours black, pink, brown
Basic Material : Stone, chisels, hammer
Basic Material : Stone, colours, polish, sand paper, file, saw, chisel, hammer



Stone Carving’s Process:-

The Shilpa Shaastras or the treatise on crafts detail the measurements and techniques of sculpting, the quality of stone, its maturity, texture, colour and so on. The stone used by the sculptor is hard so that it does not lose its shape easily or chip unexpectedly. The stone should have no flaws or kalanga (stain), rekha(patch) or bindu (spot). The tools used by the sculptors are made of mild steel in various sizes. To prevent the stone from cracking from the vibration of the instrument, the image is always carved with the stone laid flat on the ground whether the posture is seated or standing.

After the figure has been carved, a ceremony called nayanonmilan is conducted and the figure gets sight, life and breath and becomes a living force. Then it is ceremoniously placed in the garbagriha or sanctum sanctorum.



Stone Carving’s Tecniques:-

The quality of stone, its maturity, texture, colour and so on. The stone used by the sculptor is hard so that it does not lose its shape easily or chip unexpectedly. The stone should have no flaws or kalanga (stain), rekha (patch) or bindu (spot). The tools used by the sculptors are made of mild steel in various sizes. To prevent the stone from cracking from the vibration of the instrument, the image is always carved with the stone laid flat on the ground whether the posture is seated or standing.





Grass, Leaf , Reed & Fiber :-

Several products are made out of the different parts of the palm trees in North and South Arcot, Salem, Thiruchirapalli, and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu which include baskets in various patterns from Palmyra fibers and leaves as well as mats from the stem of the date palm. Tender palm leaves are separated from the strips and joined together by winding a running strip over them which is then folded like a ribbon and fastened by a thin strip of leaf to connect the layers at intervals, thus yielding a uniform and rhythmic pattern with pleasant colors in fine texture to include products like suitcases, boxes, bags, baskets, screens, chiks, mats, glass holders, vases, hats, beautiful sieves, hand fans, square mats and trinket boxes.

The articles from tender palm leaves which have their ribs removed and are then dried in the Sun include bags, dinner cases and ornamental hand held folding fans having anything between 37 to 56 blades. The blades are tied together by copper wire through holes on them and sewn together to spread out as a fan.The fans are made attractive in appearance by painting floral motifs on the blades. Palm leaf and stem weaving is a flourishing craft in southern Kerala with bags, hats, and suitcases being made both for the Indian and international markets these days. A reed is a firm-stemmed grass, with a hollow stem that looks like bamboo. It is a sturdy material and reed mats are used as walls for structures and roofs. The reed is first split and shaved before it is woven in a twill weave into mats. They are made starting at one corner and plaiting or weaving is done diagonally. Long strips are folded at the middle and another strip is inserted crosswise, which is in turn folded and the next strip is again inserted crosswise and so on. The creases of the crosswise strips form the edges of the mat. Reeds are also used to make very sturdy baskets.



 Jute’s Raw Materials:-

The villages of Tamil Nadu are full of Palm trees, coconut, date and Palmyra. Palm is the major source of raw material for preparing baskets and related products. Other raw materials like bamboo, cane, grasses, fibers and reeds are also used in making baskets, thatch, ropes, mats and many other things.


Jute’s Process:-

The jute fiber comes from the stem and ribbon (outer skin) of the jute plant. The fibers are first extracted by retting. The retting process consists of bundling jute stems together and immersing them in low, running water.There are two types of retting: stem and ribbon. After the retting process, stripping begins. Women and children usually do this job. In the stripping process, non-fibrous matter is scraped off, then the workers dig in and grab the fibres from within the jute stem.

Jute bags are used for making fashion bags & promotional bags. The eco-friendly nature of jute makes its ideal for corporate gifting.

Jute floor coverings consist of woven and tufted and piled carpets.Jute Mats and mattings with 5 / 6 mts width and of continuous length are easilly being woven in Southern parts of India, in solid and fancy shades, and in different weaves like, Boucle, Panama, Herringbone, etc. Jute Mats & Rugs are made both through Powerloom & Handloom, in large volume from Kerala, India. The traditional Satranji mat is becoming very popular in home décor. Jute non-wovens and composites can be used for underlay, linoleum substrate, and more.

Jute has many advantages as a home textile, either replacing cotton or blending with it.It is a strong, durable, color and light-fast fibre.Its UV protection, sound and heat insulation, low thermal conduction and anti-static properties make it a wise choice in home décor.Also, fabrics made of jute fibres are carbon-dioxide neutral and naturally decomposable. These properties are also why jute can be used in high performance technical textiles .Moreover, jute can be grown in 4–6 months with a huge amount of cellulose being produced from the jute hurd that can meet most of the wood needs of the world. Jute is the major crop among others that is able to protect deforestation by industrialisation.

Thus, jute is the most environment-friendly fibre starting from the seed to expired fibre, as the expired fibres can be recycled more than once.


Jute’s Techniques:-

The practical course is to introduce modernisation of technique and improve the skills and make the worker capable of enhancing his productivity and his earnings so as to enable him to meet at least the basic necessities of life and come out of the clutches of poverty within reasonable time.





Leather Craft:-

The concept of leather art came to the human mind when they used to kill animals for their food. Gradually they found the usage of leather with the intention of using leather for clothing .In India, leather industry was headed by the "Mochis" who by processing dead animals would take the skin of the animals for tanning. Mainly people from the rural parts of India are engaged in the ancestral craft of leather art, designing and manufacturing. The trade of leather tanning was inaugurated in the distant past and developed in India by the period around 3000B.C.

Foot wear is the main product of leather art as well as leather industry. Pondicherry in Tamilnadu is a considerable place where embroidered foot wear is manufactured in abundance. There is a large variety among the traditional leather `chappals` which are made of original and fine coloured leather, often decorated with brocade or embroidery. "Sleepers " or "Chappals" is one of the most admired and fancy footwear with eye catching of Tamilnadu. Chappal or sandal is another kind of footwear which is preferred in the places of warmer climates and seasons..


 Raw materials’s Leather Craft:-

The main raw material that is used for making leather crafts in Tamilnadu is the skin of goats and sheep. The creating of leather crafts specifically the leather puppets follows some procedures like washing the hide, cleaning and decorating it with immense perfection and dexterity. Once the puppets are structured, then the dyeing and outlining of the borders are done. Apart from creating these leather puppets, the craftsmen of Tamilnadu  create leather items that are used for home décor like lamp shades, wall hangings etc.



Leather Craft’s Process:-

Leather is bought from the wholesale market and soaked for two days in huge drums. It is then washed thoroughly to rid it of excess tanning ingredients. While fully wet it is stretched on the floor and left to dry. This process involves some skill as the leather needs to be stretched uniformly to avoid wrinkles. Good stretching can also increase the leather surface area by 5 - 10%. At this stage the water in the wet leather acts as an adhesive and holds it firmly to the floor. As the leather dries it automatically disengages from the floor. After this it is marked and cut to size with scissors and cardboard formats. he piece which needs to be embossed is then moistened with a sponge and rolled out with a rolling pin. A block is made according to the desired design by the acid etching process used in old letter presses. The die is placed in a ball press machine and the leather is sandwiched between the die and a sheet of hard rubber and strongly compressed. The leather is again cut according to patterns and assembled to make bags or boxes. Boxes are made using cardboard stiffeners and everything is pasted together using a rubber-based glue. Cardboard is cut using a die, because the cutting has to be very precise. Even a slight error ruins the final shape of the bag.


Leather Craft’s Techniques:-

Various other techniques are involved in making a complete product, the most important of which is skiving (to disguise the edge of the leather without increasing thickness though fashion pundits have opposing views on this), creasing (to ensure an even fold), beating (with a mallet to increase effectiveness of the adhesive) and polishing (rubbing the leather hard with a smooth piece of stone or glass to give the leather that shiny surface, the pressure and heat involved also closes the pores and gives the leather a high and even density). Bags are made by stitching together the pieces using a sewing machine. Unlike fabric stitching leather has to be stitched with a more heavy duty machine and a certain amount of pre-stitch adhesion is required to keep piece in place.





Wood Craft:-

Several places in Tamil Nadu are known for woodcraft. In Virudunagar, Nagercoil, Suchindram have passed the tradition of wood carving from generation to generation. Madurai is known for its carvings on rosewood items. In this type of carvings, there are bold motifs with intricate carves. The tabletops are covered with floral motifs or parrots or panels where scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana are etched out.
The famed temple chariots of Tamil Nadu are made of wood and are full of detailed and skillful carvings. The 19th century old Padmanabhapuram palace in Kanyakumari district is a striking example of an exquisite wooden palace displaying intricacies of wood carving through its elegantly carved roof gables, lathe-turned columns, carved window grills and decorated wooden ceilings.

Even today the front door of each household, which is considered a sacred threshold, has intricate wood carvings of Hindu deities and auspicious motifs like the hamsa/ mythical swan, padma/ lotus, poornakumbha /cornucopia, kaamadhenu and patterned floral motifs.

Other carved wooden items include small shrines and deities, low carved stools for marriages, carved fans for the deity, fertility couples and various small ceremonial containers. The carved panels of deities fixed to either end of a metre-long pole were the other ceremonial items. These panels are called kavadi and afre carried on the shoulders of a person to fulfill the vow to Lord Murugan or Karthikeya. Household kitchen instruments in wood such as grinders, vegetable cutters and serving ladle holders are items given in dowry.

Lathe-turned and lacquered toys in bright colors and at affordable prices are popular all over the state. Carved wooden toys, dolls and elephants exhibiting the skills of the artisan are also made.



Wood Carving’s Raw Materials:-

Basic Material : Bhurkul or gular wood, mango wood, green bamboo, shisham wood
Colouring Material : Alta, turmeric.
Basic Material : Doodhia wood, lac, lac stick, oil, old cloth, coloured paper.
Basic Material : Remnants of cloth, bamboo, rags, paper
Colouring Material : Dye colours
Basic Material : Punki wood, tamarind seeds, lime glue, brush, water colour, oil colour, red sanders wood
Basic Material : Cloths, colours, waste material for stuffing, coloured papers, clay


Wood Carving’s Process:-

The wood as per the size of the form to be made is cut from the block. The piece is cleaned and smoothened. The design of the toy to be made is traced on this piece. Extra wood is chipped off according to the design. Fine strokes with the hammer are made on the chisel, which is placed on the area to be shaped. It is smoothened with a file and painted. The painting starts with coloring various body parts. Next the dresses with specific designs are marked out by fine strokes of the brush. The facial features are added in the end. Sugga (parrot) are the wooden toys fixed on the marriage mandap. The mosara, (central part), charkhi and sugga (parrots) are made by the same process These are joined by bamboo killi (screw). The marriage post is coloured with yellow (turmeric), red (alta) and green colours.

The lacquering is done by pressing the lac stick against the revolving article. Oil is also applied at the same time for giving the better polish. Leaves of a kind of flowering cactus are used for polishing. The articles are either in single colour or in bands of different colours. The complicated designs and colour schemes are effected by manipulating the lac turnery and using the multifarious techniques. In Jaipur, the toys are made out of old cloth dyed afresh and stuffed with waste material. When they are gaily decorated with coloured paper and tinsel they look very alive especially with their expressive faces.

Rag dolls are made out of remnants of cloth usually thrown away. These are painstakingly collected and dyed into different shades to work out a variety of colour schemes. The eyes and mouth are indicated by black line. In case of a Rani doll, the clothes & body are fully decorated.


Wood Carving’s Techniques:-

Each wooden piece that is cut to make an item is subjected to a process of slow heating to draw out all moisture. Every single limb is separately carved and joined to the body with adhesive paste of tamarind seeds, and later passed through a coating of lime glue. The painting with colours is done by very fine precision with brushes made of goats hair. Water and oil colours are both used. Lacquering is done on a lathe, hand or is machine operated. For turning slender and delicate items, hand lathe is considered suitable. In the lac turney method, lac is applied in a dry state that is the lac stick is pressed against the woodenware to be lacquered. While the latter keeps revolving, the heat generated by friction softens the lac, making the colour stick. Lacquer ware toys are produced in this way. It is with remarkable skill that the craftsmen manipulate the stick where several colours are used. Some of the lacquered pieces are painted with a brush.





How to reach:-

Pondicherry is located in the southern-east part of India, next to the state of Tamilnadu. Chennai is situated 162km from Pondicherry and Bangalore is about 320km from Pondicherry. The closest airport from Pondicherryis in Chennai (160km). The Chennai Airport is divided by the Domestic Terminal and the International Terminal. Although Pondicherry has a railway station, availability of trains is limited to/from Villupuram and Chennai.

About Implementing Agency

Tamil Nadu     Pondicherry     Pondicherry Pudumai HC Artisans Coop. Society Ltd.