The state of Kerala, which is also referred to as Keralam, lies at the Southern West tip of India. The state was formed in 1956 when regions that spoke the Malayalam language were joined together. Kerala is still known today for its agriculture and the heritage of its arts and crafts.
The state is loved for its biodiversity and its breathtaking landscapes of tropical greenery. It is a popular destination for those looking to get in touch with nature with its array of beaches, backwaters and Ayurvedic retreat resorts.
The culture of Kerala is derived from an eclectic mix of primarily Aryan, Dravidian and Portuguese cultures. As far back as 3000 BCE, and up to the 3rd century, the state of Kerala was dominant in the export of rich Indian spices. It was, in fact, through spice trade with the Portuguese that European colonisation of India was introduced. Today, on top of spice trade, Kerala also exports coffee, tea, cashews and coconuts.
Lace and embroidery techniques from Kerala were derived from the diffusion of western Christian traditions into the indigenous techniques of the Indian region. Today, Kannur, Kottayam, Parashala, Thrissur, Changanasserry, Pala and Eravipuram are key centres of lace and embroidery. Sarees, garments, curtains, bedspreads and handkerchiefs are popular products which are hand embroidered by expert female artisans. The various elements, cut out motifs and flower net patterns in the needle-work of fine spider lace are a clear indication of Kerala’s historic association with the Portuguese.
The traditional two-piece female garment, known as settu mundu or mundum neriyathum looks just like a saree when worn. It is made as exquisitely as the Kerala saree, hand woven, with a fine count weave, often in a natural off white colour and adorned with golden embroidered borders. Koothampalli in Thrissur district is a well known location for the production of Kerala sarees by artisans making use of traditional techniques.