Poetry of Basketry Friday, 04 October 2019

Tales of Moonj Craft. Hand-coiled and tied Basketry.

A light yet tough type of grass called Kaans takes centre-stage in our Basketry capsule from the Moonj Craft. This is the poetry of making by hand. The simplicity and beauty of material and craft processes.

                

Woven in a tranquil countryside by a group of women, our Basketry Edit is a contemporary interpretation of a bygone craft, both in designand utility. It positively impacts community and empowers women in moreways than one. Multipurpose baskets. Can be used as toy sorters, laundry baskets, planters.

         

The Material

Kaans is a grass that is grown on the boundaries of farm fields. It needs no special watering or care – it grows in the residual water from the fields itself. That generous and giving. It serves a dual purpose of demarcating a field’s boundary and also serves as a by product for baskets.

         

The Crafting Process

The kaans is first cut and collected with a special sickle. It is a light grass and can be easily carried. It is then dried by spreading the strands in the open grounds in front of homes. After it is dried, it is tied together and kept aside in bundles.

The women then make bundles (gullas) of the cord. Next is bunching the required number of kaans strands to make the coil. The number of kaans strands bunched together, depends on the width of the coil required by the product.

The main processare coiling and tying the coils. The grass has to be sized nicely to get an even width for tying, a time consuming, laborious and expensive process. For our baskets, kaans grass is used for the coils. We introduced a cotton cord instead of the plastic chords that are used currently for tying.

           

The making of the baskets beginby tying the cord around the kaans coil and at the same time slightly twisting and forming the first rounds of the basket. The base round of any basket is made first and is a separate component. After the base round is ready, they begin by attaching the wall on top of the last outer coil of the base of the basket.21

     

Often the tying strands and threads break, so they have to keep joining them. The joining is done by knotting and trimming with a fabric cutter. They try to hide the cord joints on top of the coils.

The most fascinating part of Moonj Craft is that the strands are never actually joined in lengths – the artisan keeps inserting single strand as they proceed with the coiling.

The cotton thread is dyed with azo- free dyes, dried in sunlight after dyeing.

Basketry-making was a non-farm activity, carried out in off-agriculture months. Traditionally, these baskets were used for storing chapattis and grains. We’ve made baskets that can be used in multiple ways, such as laundry bins, toy sorters, planters and more.

It takes our women artisans 12 to 15 hours to weave one basket.