The plant which is abundantly grown in Thrissur district of Kerala, forms an important raw material to make one of the prominent and most popular craft of this state: the screw pine craft of Kerala. This craft which is made entirely from the plant itself is considered as the most eco-friendly craft of Kerala. All parts of the screw-pine plant are used to make the various beautiful and attractive products like bags, mats, bowls: right from the leaves of the plant to the roots.

Q Is screw pine fully eco-friendly?

This craft which is made entirely from the plant itself is considered as the most eco-friendly craft of Kerala. All parts of the screw-pine plant are used to make the various beautiful and attractive products like bags, mats, bowls: right from the leaves of the plant to the roots.

Q How are mats and baskets made?

For making the products like baskets and mats, this fleshy green plant is peeled into thin strips, dried in the sun, and then diagonally plated to weave. They are also dyed to produce different beautiful colors in the design.

Q What is the significance of this craft?

It is said that the screw pine craft of Kerala is one of the oldest crafts practiced by majorly women of this state for more than 800 years. It was first started as an empowerment tool for women but in course of time it later became highly popular due to its eco-friendly form of practice. Initially, only mats were made from this craft. These mats were used as a bedding alternative. Nowadays, quite a variety of products are made.

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      Initially, only mats were made from this craft. These mats were used as a bedding alternative. Kerala, a land with its luscious backwater was flooded by houseboats of various sizes in olden times, and the roofs and walls of these boats were made from screw pine mats. Other uses of them included thatching, hats, ropes, twine, sails for small boats, baskets etc. thus marking a vital existence in the daily life of olden kerala. In due course of time, the functions and utility of this craft changed to meet the needs of the contemporary market. Thus, nowadays different types and shapes of lifestyle products like bags, table mats, beach hats and household items like bowls and fruit holder bowls are made. The price of these products depends on the type of design and shape.

      Nowadays, these products have taken an important place as gifts for wedding ceremonies and house warming ceremonies and various types of events.


      It is considered that the mats created by screw pine plants have a significant role in the traditional customs of the state of Kerala. Tourists who visit the homes of the weavers of this craft, are offered the mats as honored articles to be sat upon. The most prominent characteristic of this craft is that the finer mats woven with screw pine have been used throughout history as an affordable bedding alternative. This craft has long provided the women crafters with steady employment and economic independence. The craft not only promotes green practices but it also provides employment in an eco-friendly manner. Screw pine craft is among many cultural wonders of India that not only displays the powers of craftsmanship but also promotes judicious use of resources.

      In a world dominated by plastic mats and bags, the significance of the Screw Pine craft has experienced a notable resurgence. This renaissance is primarily attributed to its remarkable eco-friendly characteristics. The craft’s raw material, sourced locally, is not only readily available but also boasts the inherent advantage of being entirely biodegradable. It plays a crucial role in reducing environmental impact, aligning perfectly with sustainability goals. Furthermore, the material’s inherent strength ensures not only its resilience but also its ability to withstand the test of time, making it a durable and lasting choice for conscientious consumers seeking both eco-friendliness and longevity in their products.

      Myths & Legends:


      The term ‘screw pine’ is commonly known as ‘Pandan’ or ‘Pandanus’. The plant belongs to the Pandanacea family. This plant is identified by its leaves which are sword like, thin and long, prickly margins, spiral arrangements, and aerial roots, with a rough green surface. Screw pine plant is a monocot and flowering plant. This plant only grows by streams and rivers which helps to protect the water bodies and prevent soil erosion. For making the products like baskets and mats, this fleshy green plant is peeled into thin strips, dried in the sun, and then diagonally plated to weave.

      It is said that the screw pine craft of Kerala is one of the oldest crafts practiced by majorly women of this state for more than 800 years. It was first started as an empowerment tool for women but in course of time it later became highly popular due to its eco-friendly form of practice. This craft is considered as the most authentic and traditional cottage industry of Kerala. This craft is majorly practiced in Lokamaleswaram, Malappuram in Thrissur district of state of Kerala. The reason being is that the screw pine craft is a core natural resource product of this district from which people here make use of this plant to enrich their living. This natural resource is collected from local people and processed. This is the only plant where each part of this plant is used in order to make this craft. The leaves are widely used in creating a variety of products. These leaves are hand-weaved and the products are suitable to use, as they are eco-friendly and the dye colors which are used to color these leaves contain chemicals in very small quantities which is said that it does not affect the environmental protection. While, the roots of this plant are used to make paintbrushes.

      On 30th November, 2015, the ‘Screw Pine craft of Kerala’ was granted Registration in Part A in respect of door mats, wall hangings, mats, bed mats, prayer mats falling in class-27 under sub-section (1) of section (13) of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.


      Screw Pine weaving employs several techniques, including coiling, plaiting, and twining. These techniques determine the structure and appearance of the final product. Coiling involves wrapping the softened leaves in a circular manner to create the base of the item. Plaiting consists of weaving leaves together in an over-and-under fashion, while twining involves twisting and interlocking the leaves. Before weaving begins, artisans often have a design or pattern in mind. This could be a traditional pattern passed down through generations or a new, creative design. The pattern is laid out, and the leaves are cut or folded accordingly. Depending on the desired aesthetics, artisans may incorporate decorative elements such as colored leaves or fibers from other plants, beads, or shells to enhance the appearance of the woven item. These decorative elements add a unique and personal touch to the final product.

      The products which are quite popular which are made out of the screw pine plant are mostly handbags, mats, braided bags, coasters, bowls, pillows, boxes with weaved lids. Recently in order to cater to the urban demand a new range of items have been added like sling bags, file holders and jewelry boxes. All these products are purely hand-made. These products are most preferred by not only local people but from all over the world. Slowly as the craft has been introduced in the international market, the craftsmen are now experimenting with adding new colors with natural fibers to last long in terms of durability.


      One of the major challenges faced by the artisans of this craft is scarcity of screw pine and limited marketing opportunities for this craft. It is said that, a few years back, the plant was destroyed from the river banks, canals, ponds and from a few backwaters. Besides that, the outburst of plastic mats in the market also added a big issue to this craft. An initiative of revival of this craft is needed, starting from procuring the raw materials to bringing the innovative products to creating marketing avenues.

      Introduction Process:

      The screw pine craft making process follows several steps. The first basic step includes collecting the screw pine plant leaves and cleaning it, as it has sharp thorns on both the edges. The technique varies depending on the type of item being made.

      Raw Materials:

      The main raw material required for this craft is screw pine leaves. The other important raw materials required are mentioned below:

      Screw Pine: Also known as Pandanus, is a tropical plant found in various parts of the world, including Kerala, a state in South India. Kerala Screw Pine is a particular variety of this plant that is native to the coastal regions of Kerala. It is known for its long, spiky leaves and its significance in traditional crafts, especially in the art of weaving.   The leaves are carefully harvested and processed to make them pliable for weaving.

      Dyes: The dye colors which are added with water to give color to the screw pine leaves.

      Tools & Tech:

      The tools and technique required for this craft are mentioned below:

      Cutters: Used to cut the screw pine leaves. In olden days, scythe used to be more popular as a cutter.

      Needles: Used to stitch screw pine leaves together.

      Cardboard: Used to stitch the coasters by placing the cardboard in the middle of two weaved screw pine leaves.

      Splicer: Used to split the leaves into small strips of widths-0.25cm, 0.5cm, 1cm and 1.5cm. This tool is a piece of wood on which 3 blades are fixed at equal intervals. While splicing a leaf, four uniform strips of screw pine are cut.

      Needle: In order to sew the edges of the products, the screw pine is sliced into very thin strips of 0.25cm. Needle is used to stitch the edges of these sliced leaves.

      Punch: In order to fold the mat while making products into different shapes, punch weight is used to fold the mat, so to retain the shape while stitching two pieces together.

      Tracing Wheel: In order to make the markings, a small wheel attached to a handle with multiple teeth is used. The tracing wheel is run through the line which should be creased, it is then folded with the help of a punch tool. The main purpose of using this tool is that the screw pine is usually stiff and rough, so there is a chance of breakage due the stiffness. Hence, to avoid the breakage, it is first creased with the tracing wheel and then folded, pressed with the help of a punch.

      Knife: Knife is used to remove the sharp thorns attached to edges and midrib of the screw pine leaves.

      Scissors: Depending on the different product sizes, scissors are used to cut the woven mats.



      Screw pine plant, the large flowering part mostly grows on the river side. These plants are collected from the local people of that region. Mostly, the makers of this craft get the raw materials from the local areas and then they continue with the further process. These people are trained for about a month and later they come up with new designs which are appealed by the clients.

      The first step in this process starts with cutting of the screw pine leaves with the help of a cutter tool. After the cutting process is done, the leaves are dried well to straighten the screw pine leaves. These leaves are then sliced to the required widths and then they undergo the process of dyeing where the leaves are put to boiling water in a 400 liters tank filled with required dye powder. After the boiling process, these leaves take the respective colour. However, these leaves undergo another vat dyeing process to cool it down. It is then kept in the sun to dry. After the drying process, they are then sent to the weaver’s department to start with the weaving process.

      Weaving process:

      The weaving of screw pine leaves is done by using ‘one up and one down’ weaving technique arrangement. Majority of the products are done with the same process with a slight change in twist and turns of these leaves. Based on the required shape, these sheets are cut and then weaved.

      For instance, in order to make the coaster a round shape cardboard is taken and then placed on the sheet of weaved screw pine and a circle shape is drawn on it. It is then cut into a circular shape. Now, at this step, a cardboard of the same size and shape of the screw pine leaf is cut and it is then glued between and stitched at the ends. These stitches form the important stage as the stitches should look neat and in sequence. This same technique is followed for making plates and mats.

      Here’s a simple exploration of the general Screw Pine weaving process:

      Harvesting and Preparation: The process commences with a careful selection and harvesting of Screw Pine leaves. These leaves, often long and slender, are ideally suited for weaving. Following the harvest, they are commonly subjected to sun-drying, a crucial step in preparing them for the weaving process.

      Stripping and Softening: The leaves’ thorny edges are frequently removed to enhance workability. This is typically achieved using a knife or another sharp implement. Subsequently, the leaves are softened, rendering them pliable for weaving. This pliability is achieved through techniques such as rolling or gentle bending to break down the stiff fibers.

      Pattern: Prior to the weaving initiation, artisans typically conceive a design or pattern, which may either be a traditional motif handed down through generations or a novel, creative concept. The chosen pattern is laid out, and the leaves are trimmed or folded accordingly to align with the envisioned design.

      Weaving : Screw Pine weaving embraces several distinct techniques, including coiling, plaiting, and twining. These techniques play a pivotal role in determining the structure and appearance of the final product. Coiling involves the wrapping of softened leaves in a circular manner to create the foundation of the item. Plaiting entails the interweaving of leaves in an over-and-under fashion, while twining encompasses the twisting and interlocking of leaves to establish the desired pattern.

      Finishing: As the weaving process advances, artisans ensure the integrity of the item’s shape and structure by securing the ends of the leaves. These ends are often tucked, sewn, or tied together with additional Screw Pine strips. This crucial step fortifies the durability and longevity of the finished product, guaranteeing its lasting quality.

      The intricate and deliberate process of Screw Pine weaving reflects the dedication and skill of artisans who have honed this craft over generations. It results in finely crafted, eco-friendly products that serve both practical and aesthetic purposes while preserving cultural heritage and promoting sustainability.



      No waste

      Cluster Name: Thrissur


      Thrissur, formerly Trichur, also known by its historical name Thrissivaperur, is a city and the headquarters of the Thrissur district in Kerala, India. Thrissur is also known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala because of its cultural, spiritual and religious leanings throughout history. The city center contains the Kerala Kalamandalam, Kerala Sangeetha Nadaka Academy, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi and Kerala Sahitya Academy.

      District / State
      Thrissur / Kerala
      Malayalam, Hindi, English
      Best time to visit

      Stay at
      Many good hotels available in Thrissur
      How to reach
      Auto-rickshaws and Buses
      Local travel
      Nearby Bus stops available
      Must eat
      Achappam, Vellayappam, Pazham pori


      The history of Thrissur district dates back to the 9th century. The period between 9th to 12th centuries is considered the history of Kulasekharas of Mahodayapuram. While the history after the 12th century is considered as history of the rise and growth of Perumpadappu Swarupam. The period between 14th and 15th centuries, constituted a period of severe aggressive wars during which the Samorins of Calicut acquired a major part of the present Thrissur district. Portuguese dominated this district in subsequent centuries. However, Portuguese power in Kerala, was on the verge of collapse in the beginning of 17th century. During this period, various other European powers like Dutch and English appeared and challenged the Portuguese. It is believed that, in this period, the discussions with Perumpadappu Swarupam helped the Dutch in getting a footing on the Kerala coast. At this point Kerala was conscious of the impending doom of the Portuguese, they thus looked upon the Dutch as the rising power and extended a hearty welcome to them. The consequential want of solidarity opened the floodgates of aggression, and between this period Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali were figured prominently.

      Raja Ravi Varma also known as Saktan Tampuran ascended the throne of Cochin in 1790. He is considered as the architect in developing the Thrissur district. With the accession of Raja Ravi Varma, the modern period in the history of Cochin began. In this period, all the administrative authority in the state was assigned to him and by the then sovereign on the initiative of Travancore Raja and the Dutch governor. Saktan Tampuran, as the name suggests the king was a strong ruler and his reign was characterized by firm administration. The king of Cochin was responsible for the destruction of the power of the feudal chieftains and increase of royal power in this area. Apart from this royal power, another major force entered in the public life of Thrissur and its suburbs was the Namboodithiri community. A major part of Thrissur Taluk was for long under the domination of Yogiatirippads, the ecclesiastical heads of the Vadakkunnathan and Perumanam Devaswoms. Under the Yogiatirippads, the Namboodithiri families of Thrissur were playing an active part against the ruler of Cochin in his wars against the Zamorin of Calicut. However, in 1761, after the expulsion of the zamorin from Thrissur action was taken against these families by the Raja of Cochin. The rule of Yogiatirippads ended and the management of Thrissur was taken over by the government. The Namboothiri were also reduced to impotence. Hence, the anti feudal measures of Raja Ravi Varma coupled with the several administrative reforms formed by him marked the end of the medieval period of Cochin. Soon, in the early 1805 period, the wave of nationalism and political consciousness which had swept throughout the country had its repercussions in Thrissur as well. It is considered that, in 1919, a committee of the Indian National Congress was functioning in Thrissur. It is said that, in the 1921 Civil Disobedience Movement, several people from Thrissur took an active part. Thrissur is honored for having been in the fore-front in this country-wide movement.


      Thrissur City formerly known as ‘Trichur’, is a central state situated in southwestern India. Thrissur is located 12 miles inland from Arabian Sea coast on an extension lagoon system. A commercial and cultural centre, this city is considered to be the oldest city on the west coast of India. The name ‘Thrissur’ means small sacred place. It is built around a hillock topped by the Vadakkumnathan Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. This city is home to some of the oldest churches and mosques in the country. Apart from rich culture and history, the city has few industries too like cotton weaving, rice, oilseed milling, sawmilling and soap manufacturing. It is not only a retail hub of the state of Kerala but is also a home to some of the largest textile and jewelery businesses in the region. The area surrounding Thrissur city, lies majorly on the coastal plain except in the southeast, where it overlaps the hills of the Western Ghats. Another important occupation in this region is agriculture mainly of rice and coconut, as these two are main crops of Thrissur.

      Thrissur, established in 1949 is the cultural capital of Kerala state. Malayalam is the main language spoken in this region. However, apart from Malayalam, due to high literacy rate, people of this state are also aware and can speak Hindi and English languages too.


      Thrissur is endowed with a distinct air of spirituality reverberating through the quaint temples and shrines strewn its landscapes. The old and traditional neighborhoods and stretches of greenery lining its narrow paths, give this district a rustic feel.


      Thrissur, which has been a center of learning from ancient times, is developing as a modern education hub. Schools in the city are either run publicly by the Kerala Government or privately, some with financial aid from the Government. Education is generally conducted in English or Malayalam, with the former being the majority. Most schools are affiliated with the Kerala State Education Board or ICSE or CBSE or NIOS or the Montessori system. The city serves as a center for healthcare in Central Kerala, with people from Thrissur District, Palakkad District, Malappuram District and the northern part of Ernakulam District coming to Thrissur for medical care.


      By creating a beautiful combination of different cultures and traditions, Thrissur district charms its way into every traveler’s heart. This district is known for its unique features and it has been fortunate enough to witness many eventful historical moments and to keep pace with the socio-cultural sphere. A devout town, the majority of houses here are built in typical Kerala style of architecture with tilted roof and white washed walls. Due to various ancient and historic structures situated in this town, it gives an aesthetic appeal to this town. Typically made of clay, lumber, palm leaves, and locally obtained stone and wood, the traditional homes of this region are created in harmony with the environment. People of this region use laterite as their primary building material in their community. They have preserved their homes and the concepts of vernacular architectural ideas. Fruit, vegetable, and coconut tree growth is abundant on the land around the residences The houses here are built according to Vaastu Shastra, which recommends the east and north directions for a house's entry. The homes are designed to handle climatic conditions in addition to aesthetics and comfort. Traditional homes in this region are made to resist intense heat and rain. The traditional architectural style of here is renowned for its use of organic materials and airy, cozy interiors. A well-designed traditional home is called as nalukettu which includes granaries, livestock sheds, kitchens, dining rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, puja rooms, and a well or pond.


      Thrissur has a rich cultural history. The famous dance form of Kerala: Koodiyatam which was recognized by UNESCO in 2008, is trained at the prominent institution called, ‘Natana Kairali-Research Training and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts’ which is located in Thrissur district. Apart from that, government-aided Unnayi Warrier Smarka Kalanilayam situated near famous Koodalmanikyam temple in this district trains artists on another well-known dance form of Kerala, ‘Kathakali’. Thrissur also has other institutions which give training on other classical dance forms and theatre arts. Another cultural space in this town where artists and filmmakers come together for attending and conducting various workshops and shoots is at Walden Pond House.


      The Thrissur district contains 3,243,170 people, which is nearly equivalent to the population of Mongolia or the US state of Iowa, according to the 2018 Statistics Report. It is ranked 113th in India according to the 2011 Census (out of a total of 640). 1,026 people live in the district per square kilometer, according to. Its population grew at a 4.58% annual pace between 2001 and 2011. The sex ratio in Thrissur is 1107 females for every 1000 males, while the literacy rate is 95.32 percent. The population is made up of 10.39% Scheduled Castes and 0.30% Scheduled Tribes, respectively. After Ernakulam, Thrissur has Kerala's second-highest urbanization rate.

      Malayalam is the predominant language spoken in Thrissur.

      Famous For:

      The city of Thrissur, which is referred to as the Cultural Capital of Kerala, has a longstanding, rich cultural legacy. The most colorful temple festival considered in Kerala is called Thrissur Pooram. Thekkinkadu Maidan hosts the celebration in the Malayalam month of "medam" in April or May. Elephants and humans in vast numbers congregate in the city. This majestic festival with all its crowd, sounds and its festive vibe is one of the main heartbeats of malayalis, and considered a must-watch event of Kerala. Another famous hub of thrissur, is the Guruvayur Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna at Guruvayur. People from all around India and even foreigners come to visit this 5000 year testament of culture and beliefs.

      It is said that Thrissur's history, geography, demography, and culture are all reflected in its food. The main staple food of this district is rice. Common snacks include pazham pori, kuzhalappam, and achappam. Another food that is unique to the city is called vellayappam, which is a type of rice hopper. Apart from cuisines, Thrissur is the most sacred place of Kerala.


      List of craftsmen.

      Documentation by:

      Team Gaatha

      Process Reference:

      1. Anonymous, “Promoting Screw Pine”, Swaminathan Research Foundation website.

      Promoting SCREW PINE (Pandanus) based Livelihoods

      2. Baral B., Divyadarshan C.S., Sandhya B., “Screw Pine Craft-Thrissur”, D’scource.

      3. Chandrashekar M., “Screw Pine Craft of Thrissur”, The Cultural Heritage of India website, (September 24, 2022).

      4. Jacob., “Kerala Women’s Traditional Hand-Woven Screw Pine Craft on Its Way to Revival”, The Quint, (November 17, 2021).


      Cluster Reference:

      1. Anonymous, “Thrissur”, Britannica, (September 6, 2022). 2. Shahina M., “Towns and cities of Thrissur – A case study of Irinjalakuda”, B.A Project submitted to the University Of Calicut, (2021), pp. 1-24. *CCASADER04.pdf (