KOZHIKODE: 87-year-old NC Ayyappan, from a small village in Shournur- Killimangalam, who has not travelled anywhere outside the State, is all excited to fly for the first time. Soon, this veteran is travelling to Oman to receive the World Craft Council’s Excellence Award for best craft worldwide for the specially crafted Kora mats, beating craftsmen from nearly 200 countries worldwide.
It was just a day before Iringal Sargaalaya Craft Village began its sixth edition of the International Crafts Expo that an email arrived in the mailbox of Sargaalaya announcing the international recognition for Mr Ayyappan.He has no idea of what the international recognition is, but this award was a chance for him to embrace the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, who honoured him for this world recognition. Ayyappan has a permanent stall at Sargaalaya Crafts Village to make Kora mats other than a unit at his hometown in Killimangalam.
“The year 2016 has been really wonderful because my Kora mats fetched me the Tourism Merit Award from the State Government for best crafts and the National merit award from the Central Government.The World Craft Council’s Excellence Award is the third one,” said Mr Ayyappan, who started learning the art of kora mat-making when he was 18 years old.
Now he has his whole family working day and night making mats in order to meet the increasing demand for the product.
Talking about the process of making Kora or sedge grass mat, Mr Ayyappan said, “The process of creating the mat is painstaking and time consuming. The grass which grows to a height of 3-4 feet is green in colour. The grass is harvested in the months of September- October and February-March and is cut very finely while it is still green. The outer part of the stem is used for weaving while the inside of the stem is removed with a sharp-edged knife and the process of making it is extremely delicate and highly valued, hence we sell one piece of this craft for Rs 1,000 and above based on its size,” he added.