Creating handicrafts using Palm Leaf is not only an art, but it also provides ample livelihood avenues for communities living in rural hinterlands, where the dense cover of Palm, provides them an opportunity to make a living out of this tree apart from the toddy, fruits and other benefits gained from this tree.
Nature has bestowed us with an unending variety of gifts in the form of exotic species of trees, fruits and other by products. Palm tree is considered the queen of arid lands, due to its high degree of heat tolerance and resistance to dry conditions. Naturally, this makes every part of this tree, important for a variety of reasons. Likewise, these are considered indispensable for exquisite art works.
Attractive items made of Palm Leaf are very popular among handicrafts and in South India, and these are made mostly in Southern Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The large size Palm Leaf which is used for making the products is extracted from a Palm Tree and it has a shade of ivory color. Here, choosing the right set of leaves makes the difference. Hence, those involved in this art choose leaves which are sturdy, so that it can be further processed, in the course of making the handicrafts.
The leaves are collected based on specific seasons or the number of handicraft items to be made by a particular household. These leaves upon collection, are dried under the sunlight for 2 to 3 days that makes them more dry, and removes any traces of moisture from them. Each leaf is further split into 3 or 4 leaves with the help of a splitting tool, which is usually a sharp knife on a wooden stand. This gives desired pieces, for specific items and also enables easy handling of the otherwise sturdy leaves, for the purpose of this art. These leaves are further dyed, based on the design and other requirements. Some leaves are left untouched to retain the characteristic ivory color while other leaves are dyed to create colorful, assorted palm craft items. The leaves are again dried under sun after the process of dyeing and the desired products are finally made out of it.
The sun drying is repeated to ensure that the colors are fully absorbed by the Palm leaves. Palm leaves are used widely for making baskets, boxes, trays, stationary items and assorted items like laundry bins, purses, coaster, rattle, toy box, agarbathi box, bottle holder etc. Several rural communities are engaged in the art of making highly attractive and artistic items out of Palm Leaves. These are also used to make small boxes, where miniature kitchen kits and toys are packed, exclusively for children. Various boxes of different sizes, baskets of different shapes, box sets, pouches, tray, hats etc., are created through Palm leaf extracts.