THE KALPAVRIKSHA  |

TREE OF LIFE
 

 

‘Tales of Malabar’ is a collaborative project between Srishti Institute of Design, Bangalore and the Dutch Consul General and Embassy in New Delhi to create traveling installations for museums on the history, art and culture of the Malabar region in South India.

 

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Objective

I looked at the role of nature and its influence on the life and identity of the communities residing in the Malabar region. In Indian tradition, a tree is not just an object of nature but is treated as a shrine, a source of bounty. In South India, the coconut palm is eulogized as the mythological tree that grants all the necessities of life – The Kalpavriksha. This is because every part of the tree from the leaves to its roots has value and utility. Communities from the Malabar, work with each component as a material, treat it uniquely and the result plays an important role in the cultural identity of the region. I looked at its usefulness to mankind in its totality by attempting to unravel stories and making connections to the history of the region, culture, symbolism as well as folklore. 

 

Design Constraints

• The piece is to be designed keeping in mind the setting of the museum

• The content should cater to a wide age group

• The size and scale should satisfy large audiences

• The longevity, maintenance, and storage of the piece have to be kept in mind

• The outcome should be portable

Research Questions

What role does nature play in community life?

What is a Kalpavriksha and what does it signify?

What role does the coconut palm play in the Malabar region?

Why is the coconut palm viewed as the Kalpavriksha of South India?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collaborating with Handloom master weavers Mr. Ashwath Narayan and Mr. Devraja and Mr. Mukkaram, an artisan skilled in cane craft work, I developed the Kalpavriksha. A hand-woven installation that epitomizes my version of  the mythological and majestic ‘Kalpavriksha’ (Tree of Life), as the genesis of the coconut tree - that which grants all the necessities of life. The dissected coconut represents how every layer of the tree and fruit is useful to mankind. The spreading roots made from braided coir rope, represent the evolving nature and growth of the tree. Six fabric information panels accompany the exhibit with details about why the coconut is revered as the ‘Tree of Life’ in South India, how it travelled to the Malabar region and ends with a folktale from Kerala about its origin. 

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Client: Dutch Consul General and Embassy,

New Delhi

Role: designer, artist, researcher

Timeline: January 2015 - May 2015

#textile art #handwoven #culturalheritage #installation 

 

 

The Kalpavriksha | tree of Life

Dimensions: 48” x  36” x 30”

Panels: 48.5” x 23"

Hand-woven textiles, cane,

coconut fibre, unbleached cotton

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1.jpg

Final weave 1 / Outer shell

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Dyed Acrylic, Copper wire

Length: 4 metres

Width: 50”

Final weave 3 / Fibrous husk

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Acrylic, copper wire

Length: 4 metres

Width: 50”

Final weave 4 / Fibrous husk

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Chenille, copper wire

Length: 2 metres

Width: 50”

Final weave 2 / Outer shell

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Dyed Cotton 

Weft: Lycra

Length: 1.5 metre

Width: 15” (after shrinkage)

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Final weave 5 / Fibrous husk

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Cotton (2/20s), Coconut fibre, copper wire

Length: 2 metres

Width: 50”

Final weave 6 / Inner brown shell

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Dyed Cotton 

Weft: Lycra

Length: 1.5 metres

Width: 40” (after shrinkage)

Final weave 7 and 8 / White fleshy kernel

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Chenille, copper wire

Length: 1.5 metres

Width: 50”

Loom: Plain Handloom

Warp: Cotton (Kora)

Weft: Lycra

Length: 0.5 metres 

Width: 20” (after shrinkage)

Artwork for information panels

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