Mat weaving

It is well established that fine pattern mats, or kunaa, were presented as royal gifts in ancient times. The Dutch and British governors of Ceylon were presented with such mats by the Sultan of Maldives.

What is most astonishing about this royal gift is that it is weaved with the simplest of devices – the varying patterns are produced with the aid of a simple loom and a knife which is used to slit the screw-pine leaves.

First the leaf, or hau, is collected and left to dry in the sun. it is then dyed to the three basic colours used in the kunaa, which are black, brown and yellow – this is done with natural dyes. Together with the natural colour of the un-dyed variety, a kunaa is created with beautiful, elaborate and ornate designs.

Quite functional in nature, traditionally used for sleeping, seating or praying, mats are still presented as gifts to visiting foreign dignitaries.

Kunaa are traditionally produced by women and the skill is handed down by generation – mostly from mother to daughter.

Look through our catalogue of woven mats.