Mat

About this object

History of use

The antiquity of woven mats in India is supported by archaeological evidence and references in ancient texts. Mats are among the most important of household items in every strata of society. They are essential to most domestic activities and are used in sleeping, eating, sitting, and entertaining. The finest mats of West Bengal are woven of madur grass, grown and harvested by weavers of Hindu cultivator castes. This village-based industry is now assisted by the West Bengal Home Industry Board to establish cooperatives for mat transport and marketing.

Cultural context

floor covering

Iconographic meaning

Both the elephant, vehicle of Indra and associated with Ganesh, remover of obstacles, and the horse, are auspicious symbols and represent good luck.

Physical description

Rectangular grass mat of fine regular weave. The mat has a large border around all sides in purple on a natural-coloured ground. The border has many bands ranging in thickness and motifs. The outer band has a geometric motif. The middle band has a floral motif. The band closest to the centre has a pair of elephants on one end and horses on the other, all facing inwards. The centre is without design. Long weaving threads are tied off at one end.