Madurai is famous for its art and crafts and is one of the commercial centers of Tamil Nadu. I had the opportunity to see many of the art and crafts in Madurai during my visit to the city. It is well known for its textile industry which is one of the main sources of revenue for the people here. The weavers still use the age old traditional techniques of weaving clothes, and the textiles are not only distributed in India but also exported to foreign countries.
The cotton textile industry here is very popular as also the silk and muslin clothes, they are given floral designs and also made more attractive with embroidery. The Madurai sungudi sarees are the specialties here, which are cotton sarees with zari and fabric paintings. They are worn by the ladies on auspicious days.
During my stay at Madurai I happened to visit an arts and crafts exhibition in the city. I could see many textiles and other items made of wood, sandalwood, and ivory. The Tanjore paintings looked very beautiful and I bought one to put it up on the wall in my living room. There were paintings of Gods and Goddesses, mainly of Krishna. Tanjore painting is one of the forms that is followed by many artists in South India from ages. It got its name because it flourished in Tanjavoor, the capital city of the Chola dynasty. What makes it different from other paintings is that it is decorated with semi precious stones, glass pieces, pearls and gold pieces. This makes them even more bright and beautiful. These paintings are quite expensive but worth it. They are ideal to gift to somebody special. Many people put these paintings in their pooja rooms.
I also bought a small replica of Lord Ganesha made of sandalwood. There were many other small curios and mementos. I had some for my friends at home. I could see flowers and fruits made of clay and painted, which looked real. There were many arts and crafts institutions in Madurai teaching the new generation the traditions and cultures of the ancient Madurai.