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The backwaters and the evening sky, village fairs and festivals, boat races, huts and hamlets, hills and valleys... all the spellbinding sights of villages of Southern India are captured and given life in the straw art. This peculiar art of pasting individual pieces of straw (dried leaves of the rice plant) cut to different sizes on cloth or canvas to create images is called vaikkol chritrangal (straw pictures).​

Paddy straw art is a 2000 years old form that began before the invention of paint, dyes or any form of color application. This beautiful art consist of using the natural yellow and brown colors of the leaves of the rice plant to form a straw collage of unsurpassed beauty with intricate details and highlights.

​Creating pictures using small pieces of straw is an exacting skill that requires not only a discerning eye for choosing and mixing the right shades of straw, but artists with immense patience and with hands that have deft fingers to transform straw into gold. Narrow strips of differently-colored straw are selected and sorted out and each individual piece is cut to the right size with a primitive spear shaped instrument and glued together by hand on to a crepe silk canvas with gum arabic (tree sap). No artificial color, dye or paint is added to the natural color of the rice straw.  Each picture has several hundreds of thousands of straw pieces carefully handpicked to reach the required shade and depth.

This art is made by a very small group of artisans in villages of South India whose unique skills have been preserved over the centuries from generation to generation. The long hours of labor in manually cutting and gluing individual straw pieces to create these masterpieces is not translating into sustainable income due to lack of visibility of this art and this is at the edge of extinction. Since this art form is now in the list of endangered art, it is important for us to make people aware, spark interest and prevent the art from dying out. We are trying to save an ancient art from extinction by generating a livelihood for these artists and by introducing this beautiful art to America

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