Born out of the love for Chendamangalam handloom are dolls made of the soiled textile from the flood-ravaged looms. ‘Chekutty’, as the designers have named it, is ‘Chendamangalam Kutty’ and stands for all that the floods have left behind.
“Chekutty has scars, Chekutty has stains. But Chekuty is each one of us who survived the floods,” goes the appeal from the designers who took up the task of helping rebuild the lives of the flood-hit Chendamangalam weavers, for whom 80% of revenue comes from Onam sales.
The only option left for the weavers was to burn the severely damaged and soiled stock, which could not be fixed through cleaning, says designer Lakshmi Menon of Pure Living, who has been promoting a green lifestyle along with ideas of making value-added products from waste materials.
Out of the debris of the soiled saris has emerged Chekutty – a mascot for rebuilding Kerala from despair.
Gopinath Parayil of Blue Beyond is partnering with Ms. Menon in the endeavour of ‘Weaving together Kerala’ – the slogan given for Chekutty dolls.
“We saw that there were many takers for the stock that was not damaged. It was the amount of damaged stock that got me thinking. And we needed to do something fast too,” says Ms. Menon.
“We have upcycled the fabric to help raise funds for the weavers that will help them till the next season,” says Mr. Parayil. The festival of Vishu next April is the next season for the weavers.
The average cost of a sari is ₹1,300. Up to 350 dolls can be made from a sari, with the minimum price of a doll at ₹25. Hence, the cost retrieved from a sari will be nearly ₹9,000, says Ms. Menon. Each piece of textile is chlorinated and boiled in water to disinfect it and is made safe to be used, she adds. The dolls may be hung on shoulder bags, suitcases or inside cars.
A demonstration of doll-making was organised at Panampilly Nagar on Sunday to help people take up the task.