Athangudi tiles are handmade and possess a unique charisma that comes from the sand it is made with.
There are thousands of villages in Indian soil. There are numerous ones worth remembering because of their geographical position and a good number because of their significant role and participation in Nation Building. If cities are shining with talent abound, it is quite natural because of the facilities available in them. But if a village has to excel and stand in the forefront with buzzing economic
activity, it is like a light shining in pitch darkness.
One such village is Athangudi, in Shivagagai District of Tamil nadu, India. Athangudi tiles, named after the place of manufacture in Chettinad, Tamil Nadu, come in myriad colors and patterns and are made by a unique process using local soil. These tiles are a testimony to the rich cultural heritage of the Chettiar community, who effectively adapted many influences to their own brand of local craftsmanship.
The designs and colors used in Athangudi Tiles are still those of a bygone era. However, off late new designs and patters are being incorporated. The artisans say the charisma of these tiles is due to the sand, which is of just the right composition. The Athangudi tiles are hand-made. Even before invasion of mechanized making of floor tiles such as ceramic, vitrified, marble and granites,these flowering tiles of Athangudi were a match of its own class and they competed with imported ones of Japan and Italy. However, having little shelf life and relatively slow manufacturing process, these tiles are not much in demand. The situation has led to the decline in the market. Athangudi tiles need revival. It needs support and encouragement. Hope this rich cultural heritage is not lost in times to come.
More than 100 years ago, Mr. Arulanantham Pillai who resided in Athangudi Village, was the Chief Mason of construction and cement tiles with Slab and Jolly Makers. His son, Mr. A. Amirthaswamy Pillai introduced fully glazed “Athangudi Tiles” not less than 80 years ago. This was started when the government of Great Britain was ruling India. Initially everything were not going well for him to
popularize his newly introduced flower tile works. But very soon, it became famous in the midst of not only the ordinary people living around him, but the important persons everywhere in the society, including, the Englishmen, rulers and Landlords. Mr. Pillai was better known for his work with quality and punctuality on delivering the manufactured tiles.
His lifetime is being praised till now, by many the long time customers of Athangudi Tiles. After he passed away, his son Late, Mr. Selva continued his works to make the monument alive. Mr. Alex with his brother Mr. Arun, the grandsons of the respectful human Mr. Pillai, now runs the famous Selva Industries who are pioneers in Athangudi Tiles. Mr. Alex is not only involved with Athangudi Tiles, he
is also Secretary of The Federation of Chettinad Athangudi Floor Tiles Association. He is striving hard to promote not only Athangudi Tiles, but also other handicrafts of the Chettinad region. Selva Industries has undertaken many prestigious projects. The Selva Industries have now become synonym with Athangudi Tiles. Their contribution in conserving and preserving the rich cultural heritage of Athangudi Tiles is highly appreciated by their clients and the media. They have received many letters of appreciations and have bestowed with rave reviews in Newspapers.