Vellore’s Coir rope

If you’ve ever lived in Vellore and travelled on the 2-route you’d have seen the men and women who magically weave coconut husk fibres in to thick strong coir rope. Opposite the Christian Counselling Centre at Sainathapuram, these families have been here for more than 30 years. Is this another dying art or can this cottage industry stand the test of time and technology? When we were at home this holiday I had to capture their twirling, whirling weaving art on camera just in case it disappeared any time soon.

Coir rope hand made

Coir rope hand made

The coconut husk fibres are attached to hooks on a spinning wheel (which is fixed in to the ground). The spinning action, done by hand, twists the fibres around tightly as the woman feeds more fibres in to it. This feeding action looks simple but it takes an expert hand and a light touch. She makes it look so easy but it ain’t. These ropes are incredibly strong and the fibres do not get entangled.

Coir rope making is a small scale cottage industry in the South of India, especially Kerala, and in Srilanka that families engage in. It’s a sight I’ve been seeing almost everyday of my childhood as I rode the town bus to school. One of those unique sights that reminds me of Vellore.


About nonsense girl

Galley slave, qualitative researcher working in development, married my best friend, writing about my life, my family, my dog, TV, Indian culture, astronomy and my garden.
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6 Responses to Vellore’s Coir rope

  1. tara says:

    i love the smell of the rope when they’ve just made it..reminds me of one time when danny and i had a huge tug of war with a coconut shell,hehe!

  2. Nive says:

    Thank you for writing these snippets about Vellore, feels really nice to be reminded about daily childhood visuals. Kudos to you for paying attention to such details in everyday life.

  3. ganesh gopalakrishnan says:

    We use these ropes everyday not realising the makers role. The precision is amazing. I hope you all noticed that all the ropes were of identical diameter and that to done without the use of robotics or computer software. Well done Gayu that you have captured this art. Send it world wide.

    • gkorula says:

      you are right – amazing precision which is not easy to do. It’s the magician’s sleight of hand that makes something incredibly difficult, look so easy

  4. Shyla says:

    The door mat outside my front door has come all the way from Kerala- coir of course. Reminds me of my homeland everyday.

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