The admirable Goan shell craft

The admirable Goan shell craft

exotic art

The admirable Goan shell craft

Art lovers on a spice trail to Goa can come across amazing handicraft items crafted from coconut. Making coconut idols is an age-old practice of Goa that goes back to the Portuguese era there.

Take the case of Tropical Spice Plantation, spread over 120 acres of land amidst thick, lush groves in the hamlet of Keri, lying about 6 km from Ponda, and around 30 km from Panjim. The 250-year-old spice plantation site flaunts a variety of well-crafted coconut handicraft products that are made by the artisans in the nearby hamlets. They last long and serve as the best examples of Goan art and culture, since coconut forms an integral part of the Goan way of life.

There are nearly 500 artisans across the state engaged in this craft. There are Ganesha idols made from the inner layer of dry coconut shell, and the husk is artistically shaped to form a protruding belly.

Once the structure is made, brush is wielded in red, white and black colours to shape the face of the elephant-headed god. Besides Ganesha, there are elephants made of coconut husk that are pegged at Rs 400. One can look out for an astounding array of monkey-faced human figures that are exquisitely crafted from the inner layer of coconut shells with the coconut still remaining inside. The body parts of these clumsy-looking creatures comprise the husk, and it takes around four hours to craft a single piece of the item. These creatures are firmly mounted on a stand made of coconut’s outer covering. They each cost Rs 400.

Then there are glass bottles covered with coir and wrapped with coconut ropes. These become stylish drinking water bottles that come for Rs 300. Other handicraft items to look out for are coconut bowls that can be used for serving curries, storing fragrant spices and vegetables in the kitchen.

These handicraft items find many buyers — both locals and tourists. Spice plantations that display such products earn good profits with a steady stream of tourist visits. Around 150 pieces of bottles crafted from coconut fly off the shelves in a year. Nearly 50 pieces of monkey-faced human figures are sold annually.