45. Mat

45. Mat
Cured and Dyed Marantradichotoma Reed
Length: 121.92 cm, Width: 104.14 cm
Twentieth century
Catalogue number 45.
Accession number 88.545.

These patterned mats are laid on the floor as seats for people during meal times. They are also used as prayer mats when the family gathers at the shrine during religious ceremonies. They protect against the cold and damp that seeps from the earthen floor of rural homes during the rainy season. They are sometimes spread on beds during the hot summers because they can also keep out the heat. These mats are so soft and pliable that even the large ones can be folded up to six times and stored on shelves.

There is a wide variety of materials, sizes, colors, and patterns to the mats. These ones belong to the type known as shitalpati, traditionally made in Bangladesh, although they are now being produced by migrant families in Coochbehar and Nadia districts of West Bengal. They were traditionally made in village homes by both men and women who tear fine strips of the dried reed, dye some of them, and weave patterns into the mats. These examples have floral as well as abstract patterns created by colored strips set against a natural background.

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