Chendamangalam Handloom: Design Intervention in Craft Revival

Chendamangalam Handloom: Design Intervention in Craft Revival

in Video
Published on: 24 February 2020

Anoodha Kunnath

Anoodha Kunnath is a filmmaker based in Kerala. After completing her bachelors in architecture, she did her post graduation in Film and Video from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. After working as an Associate Designer at NID, she worked with Black Picture Company on various projects. She currently runs a production house called Curiouser in Cochin, creating films for various eco-resorts, fashion houses and other new brands.

This film traces the revival and restoration of Chendamangalam handloom industry through design intervention post the 2019 Kerala floods.

Chendamangalam is a small unassuming town by the banks of the river Periyar, almost 30 kilometre away from the city of Ernakulam. It was a thriving centre of trade and exchange near the ancient sea port Muziris. Chendamangalam is also known to be the earliest home of the Malabari Jews. As much as it is known for its traditional handloom clusters, the town is an erstwhile hub of culture, remnants of which are still visible. The 2019 floods in Kerala were instrumental in bringing that aspect to light in the minds and hearts of people; a key factor in how the handloom clusters and its craftsmen survived the massive devastation.

The film wishes to document the processes of the Chendamangalam handloom craft, in the H47 sector of the district. These traditional ways are painstakingly retained and practiced: from street warping to warp rolling, despite the craftsmen taking up other jobs. The fabrics from this little town are not only used by people of Kerala but have also travelled to other places through the works of designers. The craft survives today because the designers and common people from all over the world helped the craftsmen, believing that they are protecting an important living heritage. 

The film places the craft practice in the wider context of its history and then arrives at the post-flood situation. The aim is to highlight how this design intervention has merged tradition and contemporary sensibilities and has thus supported the survival of this handloom heritage.