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Crafts of West Bengal Ethnic Arts & Crafts

Sitalpati Mats: The Silk-Like Mats of Bengal that Bring Comfort and Style to Your Home

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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Introduction

In the heart of Bengal, a traditional art form has been weaving its magic for centuries, creating something both practical and beautiful: Sitalpatti mats known for their silk-like smoothness and intricate designs, these mats are more than just a household item; they are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Bengal and a symbol of artisanal skill.

Sitalpatti Mat Weaving of West Bengal :

Shital Pati Bags & Hand Bags : Explore & Buy on Google Shopping

Sitalpati mats

History and Origin

Sitalpati, which literally means ‘cool mats’, has its roots in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal, India. This craft dates back hundreds of years and has been passed down through generations of artisans. The skill of making Sitalpati is so revered in the region that the town of Sitalpati in Cooch Behar is named after it.

Sitalpati Mats in the News

Sitalpati mats of Bengal

The Making Process

The process of making Sitalpati mats begins with the cultivation of ‘Murta’ plants. The artisans, with years of expertise, carefully select and harvest the reeds. The reeds are then split into fine strips and woven into mats. This weaving process is intricate and requires a high level of skill and patience, making each mat a unique piece of art. The natural green of the reeds gradually fades to a golden hue, adding to the aesthetic appeal of the mats.

Sitalpati mats of Bengal

Design and Varieties

Sitalpati mats are renowned for their intricate designs and patterns. From simple stripes to complex geometric and floral designs, these mats are a testament to the artisans’ creativity. The versatility in design makes these mats suitable for a variety of home decors, from traditional to contemporary.

Sitalpati mats of Bengal

Cultural Significance

Sitalpati is not just a craft; it’s a part of Bengal’s cultural identity. The mats are used during religious ceremonies and festive occasions, symbolizing purity and auspiciousness. They are also an essential part of Bengali weddings, used as a seat for the bride and groom during the marriage rituals.

Sitalpati mats of Bengal

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

In an age where sustainability is key, Sitalpati mats stand out for their eco-friendly nature. Made from natural materials, they are biodegradable and do not contribute to pollution. This aspect has garnered attention in the global market, where there is a growing preference for sustainable and eco-friendly products.

Sitalpati mats of Bengal

Modern Adaptations and Global Appeal

The art of Sitalpati is evolving with time. Artisans are now experimenting with colors and new designs to cater to the changing tastes of customers. From being a household item in Bengal, these mats have found their way into international markets, appreciated for their craftsmanship and aesthetic value.

Sitalpati Mat Weaving of West Bengal – Asia InCH – Encyclopedia of  Intangible Cultural Heritage
Sitalpati mats of Bengal
Sitalpati mats of Bengal
Traditional art of Shital Pati weaving of Sylhet - YouTube
Sitalpati mats of Bengal
Sitalpati mats of Bengal
Lilly - Traditional sitol pati, inbox me for order, size... | Facebook
Sitalpati mats of Bengal
Book tickets to Sitalpati Craft Workshop from Goalpara
Sitalpati mats of Bengal

There’s more to explore about Sitalpati mats that enrich their story and significance:

Geographical Indication (GI) Status:

Sitalpati mats from Cooch Behar were awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Government of India. This recognition not only honors the unique cultural identity of these mats but also helps in preserving the traditional technique and boosts the local economy by promoting authentic products.

Cultural Integration:

While predominantly a craft from Bengal, Sitalpati has influenced and been influenced by neighboring regions and cultures. This cultural exchange is visible in the variations of designs and patterns found in mats across different regions.

Health Benefits:

Traditionally, it’s believed that sitting on Sitalpati mats can have cooling effects, especially during the hot and humid summer months. This is attributed to the natural properties of the Murta reeds, which remain cool even in high temperatures.

Preservation Efforts:

With the advent of modern, cheaper alternatives, the art of making Sitalpati is facing challenges. However, various NGOs and government initiatives are working towards the preservation and revival of this craft. These efforts include training new artisans, providing financial support, and creating market links for wider distribution.

Innovative Uses:

Beyond traditional mats, the Sitalpati weaving technique is being adapted to create a range of products like bags, hats, and coasters. This diversification not only keeps the craft alive but also appeals to a broader market, including younger generations and international consumers.

Community Involvement:

The craft of making Sitalpati is often a community endeavor. It’s common for entire families or communities to be involved in different stages of the process, from harvesting reeds to the final weaving. This communal aspect is crucial in sustaining the social fabric and economy of the artisan communities.

Festivals and Exhibitions:

Sitalpati mats and other products are often showcased in local, national, and international handicraft exhibitions and fairs. These events play a vital role in raising awareness about the craft and its cultural significance.

Challenges:

Despite their beauty and cultural importance, Sitalpati artisans face challenges such as competition from synthetic products, limited access to markets, and the decreasing availability of quality Murta reeds due to environmental changes.

By understanding these additional aspects of Sitalpati mats, one can appreciate not just their aesthetic value but also their cultural, economic, and ecological significance. It’s a craft that embodies the harmony between nature, tradition, and community livelihood.

Want to learn more about the Sitalpati mats of Coochbihar in West Bengal : Click here to explore

Conclusion

Sitalpati mats are more than just a piece of traditional Indian handicraft. They are a blend of art, culture, and sustainability. Each mat tells a story of the skill, dedication, and cultural richness of Bengal. Incorporating these mats into your home decor is not just a style statement but also a step towards supporting sustainable art forms and the artisans who keep these ancient traditions alive.

In the hustle of modern life, these silk-like mats from Bengal bring a touch of serenity and cultural richness, making them a must-have in every home that values art and tradition.


Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

Ready to dive into the world of India's ageless beauty? Follow Mala on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook and join her in spreading the magic of ancient India to the world.

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4 replies on “Sitalpati Mats: The Silk-Like Mats of Bengal that Bring Comfort and Style to Your Home”

How to buy Sital Pati mats?

Sitalpati mats, made from the finely woven green cane slips of the Murta plant, are a traditional craft of Bengal, recognized for their cooling properties and intricate designs. To purchase Sitalpati mats, especially if you want specific sizes or custom designs, here are a few avenues you might consider:

Local Craft Fairs and Handicraft Markets: Attending local craft fairs, exhibitions, or handicraft markets in Bengal or major Indian cities can be a great way to find authentic Sitalpati mats. Events such as the Kolkata Handicraft Fair often feature artisans from across the state.

Government Emporiums: Government-run emporiums like Biswa Bangla in West Bengal offer a range of handicrafts from the region, including Sitalpati mats. These emporiums ensure that you get authentic products while also supporting the artisans directly.

Online Platforms: There are several online platforms where you can buy Sitalpati mats. Websites like Crafts of India, Gaatha, and Amazon India offer a variety of handicrafts. Some sites may also offer the option to customize the size according to your needs.

Direct from Artisans: If possible, purchasing directly from the artisans can ensure that you get the size you want and also support the artisans more substantially. This might require contacting craft clusters or co-operatives in Cooch Behar, where many Sitalpati artisans are based.

Specialty Stores: Some specialty stores in urban areas focusing on sustainable and traditional Indian handicrafts may also stock Sitalpati mats. Stores like Fabindia, which promote traditional techniques and crafts, might be a good place to check.

If you are looking for a specific size, contacting the seller or artisan directly to inquire about custom orders is often the best approach. This way, you can specify exactly what you need and possibly even contribute to the design process.

Discovering & contacting Sitalpati weaving artisans:

Sitalpati weaving is a renowned craft in Bengal, particularly concentrated in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. This region is celebrated for its skilled artisans who have been practicing the traditional weaving techniques for generations, often passing them down through families.

Locations
Cooch Behar: This is the primary hub for Sitalpati weaving. The villages around Cooch Behar, especially in areas like Tufanganj, Dinhata, and Sitalkuchi, are known for their Sitalpati artisans.
Other areas in Bengal: While Cooch Behar is the most notable, some neighboring districts may also have artisans who practice this craft, albeit on a smaller scale.

How to Contact Them

Craft Fairs and Cultural Festivals: Participating in local craft fairs and cultural festivals in Bengal can be an excellent way to meet Sitalpati artisans directly. These events often facilitate direct interaction between artisans and buyers.

Government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs): Organizations like the West Bengal Handicrafts Development Corporation (Manjusha) and other NGOs that work with rural artisans can help in connecting with Sitalpati weavers. They often have direct contacts and can facilitate connections for purchasing or learning about the craft.

Local Cooperatives and Self-Help Groups: Many artisans are part of cooperatives or self-help groups. These organizations can be contacted directly to inquire about purchasing products or engaging with artisans. For example, the Tantuja is a government initiative that might have connections with these groups.

Online Research and Social Media: Some artisans or their cooperatives may have an online presence through websites or social media platforms. Searching platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or even artisan marketplaces could yield direct contacts.

Visit the Region: If feasible, visiting Cooch Behar and connecting with local shops or community centers can lead to direct interactions with artisans. Local tourism offices can also provide guidance and contacts.

Engaging with these artisans not only helps in getting authentic Sitalpati products but also supports the sustainability of this traditional craft. If you need assistance in arranging a contact or planning a visit, local travel agencies or cultural tour organizers specializing in artisan crafts can be helpful.

How to reach Cooch Behar in Bengal to buy Sitalpati mats direct from the artisans?

Cooch Behar is a district in the northeastern part of West Bengal, India, and is accessible by air, rail, and road. Here’s how you can reach Cooch Behar:

By Air
Nearest Airport: Cooch Behar has its own airport, Cooch Behar Airport, but it has limited operations. The nearest major airport is Bagdogra Airport, near Siliguri, which is about 160 kilometers away. Bagdogra Airport is well-connected with major cities in India like Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai.
From Bagdogra to Cooch Behar: You can hire a taxi or take a bus from Bagdogra to Cooch Behar, which usually takes about 3 to 4 hours.

By Rail
Train Services: Cooch Behar railway station is well-connected to major cities and towns in India. There are direct trains from Kolkata, Guwahati, and other important cities to Cooch Behar. Train travel could be a convenient option if you’re coming from within West Bengal or neighboring states.
From Cooch Behar Station: The railway station is centrally located, and you can easily get a taxi or auto-rickshaw to take you around the town or to specific villages known for Sitalpati weaving.

By Road
Bus Services: There are regular bus services to Cooch Behar from major cities in West Bengal and the neighboring states. Buses from Kolkata, Siliguri, and Guwahati travel to Cooch Behar frequently.
Self-Drive: If you prefer driving, Cooch Behar is well-connected by road. From Kolkata, it’s approximately a 700 km drive, which can take about 12-15 hours depending on the traffic and road conditions.

Local Transport
Once in Cooch Behar, you can use local transport like auto-rickshaws and taxis to visit the artisans. It might also be helpful to coordinate with local craft centers or cooperatives who can guide you to the specific locations where artisans work.

Tips for the Visit
Plan Ahead: It’s a good idea to contact local NGOs, cooperatives, or craft centers in advance to make your visit more productive. They can provide information on where exactly to find active Sitalpati weaving communities.

Accommodation: Make sure to arrange your accommodation in advance, especially during tourist seasons or local festivals when the area might be busier than usual.

Visiting Cooch Behar and buying Sitalpati mats directly from the artisans not only gives you a chance to obtain authentic crafts but also supports the local economy and helps preserve this traditional art form.

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