Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Handmade and vibrant- Athangudi tiles

When my seven year old son, was told that we are about to visit a tile factory, he wasn't a bit enthusiastic about it but the sheer experience of seeing deft hands at work left him mesmerized and then he wasn't ready to return! Such was our thrill of visiting the factory at Athangudi which is world famous for making handmade tiles.

Four tiles assembled to form one pattern!

A single colourful tile

 Since these tiles are handmade, each piece is unique. The patterns on Athangudi tiles are as a result of the design frames which have to be made first. The person in charge of the factory told us that there are very less number of artisans now, who make these design frames. As a craft it is probably dying a slow death.
Frame for making the design

Let me give you a glimpse of how these tiles are made in the form of pictures and videos.

Have a look at the video to understand how a plain tile is made...

The tiles are made from a mixture of cement and sand.All the impurities from the sand are first filtered. Then a running dough of cement,sand, water and colour is prepared by mixing these together.

Square glass slabs form the base for the tile. A metal frame is placed on the glass slab. For a plain single coloured tile, the above running mixture is poured over the frame.Sand, cement mix is sprinkled all over to absorb moisture.
Incase of design tiles, another designed frame is placed to form the design.Then the colour solution is poured in the different compartments of the frame.

There are skilled artisans too, who sometimes don't use these designed frames! Instead they pour the colour manually on the glass slab and stir it manually to create a design. But such is their expertise in this craft that batch after batch they churn out innumerable quantities of exactly the same tiles!

Now, the border frame is removed and the tile is left to dry at room temperature for a few hours and later cured in water by keeping it soaked in a water tank for about 6-7 days.

Watch another short video to see how the tile is seperated from the glass with ease and then the corners and edges are filed to a smoother surface.

Tiles left in a water tank for curing

Then  the tiles are dried in the sun. The glass eases out from the tile smoothly and a perfect glossy finished Athangudi tiles are created.

A well laid out floor with Atahngudi tiles

These tiles apparently are hassle free to maintain and remains glossy without any polishing. Am completely floored by the wonderful patterns and the eye catchy colours!

So how did you find this post? The next post is a small makeover that I attempted recently...So catch you soon.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mansions of Chettinad

 These palatial  homes that we are about to  uncover on the blog today belong to the Chettiars.  Each of these homes represent the power and the social  standing of the Chettiars and are therefore designed with elements imported from various places.The Nattukottai Chettiars belong to prosperous banking and business community and in that respect they traveled extensively.The houses are grand and the architectural details are sure to leave you spell bound.

Karaikudi and the sorrounding towns together constitutes the Chettinadd region which is now known as Heritage town.  Kanadukathan is a small sleepy village wherein many of these mansions occupy the Pride of place

There are certain very distinctive features of a chettinadd home like huge teak and iron pillars, the Italian wall and the floor tiles,' thinnai' or raised platforms, eye catchy  Belgian glass chandeliers, intricate carvings on the Burmese teak doors and windows, colorful glass windows, the smooth wall plastering which seems to have been achieved with the help of a mixture of limestone, ground white sea shells and egg whites.These elements lend a very unique feel to these houses.

The Chettiars lived together as a joint family which explains the need for so many rooms. The central courtyard ensured good ventilation, light and shade. Most of these homes are now used as vacation homes or let out for tourists and film shootings.

As we make our way into their homes, you will discover how each element blends harmoniously with the rest, even though they were sourced from all over the world! The craftsmanship and the tasteful decor will make you gasp for sure!

Am going to show you around two mansions each unique than the other.As much as you can feel the grandeur of these houses, somewhere there is also this raw appeal with an old world charm that brings about a child like excitement within me, as I write this post.

Athangudi palace

The exteriors of the home...

Such a pleasing green on the metal grills and the glass arch

The ceilings are either brightly painted or tiled

Another Verandah with huge pillars

Patterns on the ceilings

Look at those embellishments in the form of wooden carvings on the pillars

The wall tiles are from Belgium

 Magnificent work on the ceiling...If you look closely the centre depicts a wedding in progress

Sit out by the window

For a very nominal fee, we visited this palace and spent some good time absorbing in all the finer details.

Chettinad Mansion:

Built with the concept of a central courtyard flanked by rooms on all the sides, this place houses more than 100 rooms.I was thrilled to realize,  that the entrance to this home was on one street and the exit or the back opened onto the parallel street. Imagine the vastness!!! For now, only a portion of the mansion is well maintained and the owners let out the rooms for tourists.

Brass ladies welcoming with deepams

Facade of Chettinadd Mansion

This mansion has been converted into a hotel...Photo frames of the current generation adorn the corridors.

Teak doors...

These metal frames lined on the entire periphery created much drama with their shadows

The chettinadd region is also every travelers  and gastronomist's delight ! I highly recommend the place for your next vacation.

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