Grasp craftsman VV Suresh Kumar on the forefront of reviving Nettoor petti and different conventional picket containers as soon as used extensively in Kerala

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At his workshop in Thiruvananthapuram, he restores, renovates and makes a variety of picket containers typical in Kerala

At his workshop in Thiruvananthapuram, he restores, renovates and makes a variety of picket containers typical in Kerala

It was considering out of the field that helped VV Suresh Kumar give a brand new lease of life to totally different sorts of conventional picket containers made in Kerala.

Ari petti (to retailer grains), arrappu petti (to maintain spices for each day use), kaal petti, (for elders to maintain their garments and paperwork in) and kai petti, a slim briefcase-like field with compartments, carried by karyasthan (supervisor) of a rich landlord or service provider, have all obtained takers. Marunnu petti (medication field) was a typical fixture in Ayurveda dispensaries. With a number of drawers, it was used to retailer medicines, herbs and powders.

As an alternative of constructing them solely in teak or rosewood, as up to now, Suresh now makes the containers in jack, wild jack and mahogany additionally.

Within the sixties and seventies, his father Viswanathan Achari, a grasp craftsman, revived the Nettoor petti from the brink of extinction. Suresh remembers that his father had held coaching classes to show craftsmen to make the Nettoor petti underneath a venture of the Authorities of Kerala.

 Nettoor petti made by master craftsman VV Suresh Kumar at his workshop in Thiruvananthapuram

Nettoor petti made by grasp craftsman VV Suresh Kumar at his workshop in Thiruvananthapuram
| Photograph Credit score: SREEJITH R KUMAR

Utilized by rich households and aristocrats to retailer valuables and ornaments, the Nettoor petti, additionally known as the aada petti, often product of teak and rosewood, was ornamented with brass and had compartments and secret chambers inside. Nevertheless, the field fell into disuse because of the rising use of steel cabinets and lockers.

Exhibiting a Nettoor petti which he believes is round 250 years outdated, he says the proprietor has given it to him to revive it. “As soon as, it was coated with stunning work that resembled murals in Kerala. Nevertheless, somebody who had it polished has erased a lot of the delicate work. It’s in excellent working situation. I’m making an attempt to revive the portray and polish the brass carvings on it,” says Suresh.

Master craftsman VV Suresh Kumar with a Nettoor petti that is believed to be more than 200 years old

Grasp craftsman VV Suresh Kumar with a Nettoor petti that’s believed to be greater than 200 years outdated
| Photograph Credit score: SREEJITH R KUMAR

As an alternative of merely replicating the containers of yore, Suresh has given it a brand new search for present-day patrons. So, the Nettoor petti and Aatta petti include work in numerous color palettes. “Whereas some clients insist on sustaining the outdated look, there are others who need it to be painted with mural-like work. Some need us to carve the containers. We customise it for them,” he explains.

Makeover for the Nettoor petti

In its making too, the Nettoor petti has modified . Taking an outdated, light and unpolished field, he exhibits how the lid was comprised of a single piece of wooden with no joint in any respect. The field too has been comprised of a single piece of wooden and the compartments had been carved inside, thus obviating the necessity for any joint. “These are tough to make as a result of the wooden must be hollowed from inside to make these. The labour and time spent on it might not be commensurate with the value it would fetch us. So, we be a part of 4 items of wooden for the lid, which resembles the roof of conventional homes in Kerala,” he explains. The price of the containers begins from ₹2,500.

‘Uppu Maravi’ was used to store salt crystals in the kitchen

‘Uppu Maravi’ was used to retailer salt crystals within the kitchen
| Photograph Credit score: SREEJITH R KUMAR

Nevertheless, Suresh isn’t positive how the Nettoor petti obtained its identify. Nettur exists in Ernakulam and Kannur districts in Kannur and in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. “As soon as, a number of locations in Tirunelveli had been part of erstwhile Travancore. My father is from Neyyattinkara within the south of Thiruvananthapuram. Maybe our ancestors got here from Tirunelveli a very long time in the past.”

One other attention-grabbing creation is the cheppu (spherical or cylindrical container with a lid) that’s comprised of the foundation of timber. The thick a part of the foundation is taken and hollowed out to form it after which ornamented with brass strips and carvings.

Master craftsman VV Suresh Kumar working on an atta petti, which was once used to store costumes of Kathakali artistes

Grasp craftsman VV Suresh Kumar engaged on an atta petti, which was as soon as used to retailer costumes of Kathakali artistes
| Photograph Credit score: SREEJITH R KUMAR

In 2014, Suresh was commissioned to make a decorative field to hold the relics of Saint Chavara Kuriakose Elias and Saint Euphrasia to Rome for canonisation by Pope Francis on the Vatican. Particular decorative containers with glass on all 4 sides had been made for the event. “It was a proud second for us!” he shares.

At current, Suresh has an outlet at Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Vellar, close to Kovalam, which is managed by his brother VV Ramesh Kumar. Though the lockdown was a tough time for craftsmen, the federal government gave them a serving to hand with progressive schemes for gifting throughout Onam final yr.

“Issues are wanting brighter now with the economic system steadily opening up. We hope that kids study the craft to maintain up the legacy of our grasp craftsmen,” says Suresh.

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