Basketry and Matting

Sheetalpati, floor matting. Split cane; 72 cm x 60 cm. Goalpara, Assam. VC.

A special type of cane (Clinogyne dichotoma) locally known as patti bent1 or mutra in Bengali, patti due in Assamese and amjori in Garo, is used to create the most beautiful floor mats in India.

Generally undyed, the natural subdued tones of the dried split cane create a phenomenal effect on the hand woven surface of the sheetalpati, literally, “cool matting”, ideal during the sultry heat of the Indian summer. Sheetalpati is an important item of exchange between the families of the bride and groom and in fact seals the ties between the two.

Designs centering around the diamond, or rhomboid shape, also known as jamdani, are created by using naturally darker or dyed slips. The triangular pattern is known as teen kani, the square or rectangular as then chek, or just chek, the grid pattern is called bielan, rows of horizontal lines, dusa, and a square divided into four smaller squares with different weaves is known as the choot jabra jamdani. It is interesting how the jamdani, a famous brocaded fabric of the region, is employed in the design terminology of the patikars or mat-weavers of Assam.

1.In conversation with craftsman Akhil Chandra Pal from Goalpara.

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