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Lace And Embrodiery

Kerala was the first landing site for Western nations, who eventually set up their colonies and missionaries in these lands. Since then, Christianity and many of the western traditions have amalgamated with the customs and practices of Kerala, over time. One of these is the art of embroidery and lace making; first records of embroidered cloth come from that of the first Syrian Christian colony in Kerala.

Today this art is spread all over Kerala, with Thrissur, Kannur, Kottayam, Changanasserry, Eravipuram, Pala and Parashala being notable centers, producing high quality embroidered clothes and laces. It is a belief of knowledgeable locals that the present tradition of embroidery has its origin in the London Mission Society, which started working during the first decades of the 19th century. Household linen and fancy clothing is the main substance of the embroidery industries in Kerala. Mainly done by hand, the bedspreads, handkerchiefs, curtains and so on are excellent example of handicraft of the adept artisans, who are predominantly women. The delicate and intricate arts of fine spider lace and crochet work, are the specialty of the lace and embroidery tradition of Kerala. The stylistic elements of the various patterns used in these needle-works, are remnants of the Portuguese style. Many artist use woven lace together with embroidery to created some of the most beautiful ornamentations on a fabric, these are more common over linen, while the saris are only embroidered.

The techniques used for creating intricate labyrinths of thread in lace and embroidery are the traditional freestanding and cutwork techniques. The process for creating fine lacework involves wooden pegs used to channel minute threads around the lace designs. This design is first drawn on a stencil, is used and the wooden pegs are fixed with pins that line the design borders. The threads used are multicolored - with every thread having a smoothly varying shade, giving an exquisite gradient to the finished work.

The festival of Christmas call for greeting cards and cards in Kerala are special as the designs of the Christmas tree and other seasonal motifs are embroidered on them. This is a unique tradition among the Christian communities in Kerala. Nowadays, machines are involved in the manufacturing processes although the local and tourist customers insist on authentic handmade laces. The handmade caps from Talangara in Kasaragod are popular in the Middle Eastern markets.

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