COCONUT SHELL CRAFT
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FASHION TECHNOLOGY
CRAFT STUDY AND DOCUMENTATION
Subject Faculty- Ms. Pallabi Palit
This documentation has been prepared in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the
subject of craft research and documentation of the program Bachelor Of Design in
Fashion And Lifestyle Accessory -Semester 5 in the academic year 2018-2019.
For preparing the document we have visited Goa ,Maharashtra during the suggested
duration of seven days to avail the necessary information, study and document the
craft process and the livelihood of the artisan .
It was an immensely pleasurable experience to be able to explore the craft of Goa , Maharashtra.
We thank –
Mr. Kumar Sudeepta , Course Coordinate for providing us information about craft and helping us to
contact the crafts men.
Mrs. Pallabi Palit , Assistant professor for answering all our quires in advanced, for equipping and
making us ready for the field research , and also for guiding us through the transcription and content
building process , we thank her for the continued support without which this document would not
have been possible.
Mr. Shreepati Bhatt, who accompanied us to the cluster at Goa ,Maharashtra. It was under his
guidance and mentoring that we could successfully plan and carry out our survey.
Miss. Kislaya Chaudury for coming in and inspiring us to work on layouts and presentation of the
information right from choosing the font to tastefully arranging everything.
Mr.Sonu Keshav Shetgaonkar and his wife Mrs. Sonali Sonu Shetgaonkar for being so welcoming and
letting us inside their craft and workplace for showing us how they work, being open to our queries.
We would also like to extend our gratitude towards Mr. Vijay Dutta Lotlilkar and Mr. Boromeu Peirera
for shearing valuable information about the craft and the region.
Lastly we are grateful to National Institute Of Fashion Technology for providing us with the
opportunity to cover this craft and experience what we gained.
Content CHAPTER 4 - The Craftsman
CHAPTER 1 – Introduction • Mr. Vijaydatta Lotlikar
• Mr. Boromeu Pereira
• Craft And Society • Mr. Sonu Keshav Shetgaonkar
• The Shilpkar
• Cluster Of India And Mrs.Sonali Sonu Shetgaonkar
CHAPTER 2 – Goa As A Crafts Place CHAPTER 5 - Material And Process
• History And Culture • Raw Materials
• Costumes • Tools And Machinery
• Food • Process
• Economy CHAPTER 6 -Sustainability
• Crafts Of Goa
• The Future
CHAPTER 3 - Coconut Shell Craft • SWOT Analysis
• Introduction To Craft
• Emergence As A Craft
• Comparison Of Style
I see myself in a coconut!
Hard from outside and
Too arduous to open,
But the moment you do so ,
You shall witness
The mostly delicate and the sweetest
Version of who I actually am.
- Hu Kha
CHAPTER 1 - Introduction
• CRAFT AND SOCIETY
Craft is an evolved expression of human spirit. Craft was the ﬁrst evolved expression of man which
gave birth to Arts and other life sustaining processes. Craft is considered to be more cohesive and
permeating in human relationships than even language, for it penetrates the barriers of
communication. This act of crafting is the most potent proof of 'civil-ness' in any civilization. Deep
within itself, craft holds myths, legends and faiths. The growth of craft in a society is a sign of the
cultivation of sensitivity and the stirring and mellowing of humanism. Craft mirrors the aesthetics, it
mirrors the pure human expression, and it mirrors culture.
In the Indian context, crafts have been both for personal use and an expressional fulfillment as well as
an economic activity. Craft started as a ritual; a need but today craft stands for our golden heritage.
Today the society yearns for the art of hand and tries to ﬁnd an escape from this plastic jungle. At
such a time craft comes as a solace, it is craft that binds man to his roots. As we become more
conscious of the interlocking nature of the world that we live in, and we realize that species are
disappearing, that environments are getting damaged, so we realize the vulnerability of our own
human cultural heritage and of the 'intangible' assets such as crafts that we carry as communities.
• THE SHILPKAR
The Shilpkar or the craftsman is the unbroken link between tradition and society. The craftsmen are an
integral part of our culture and society. In our past it was the craftsmen who created artefacts that
helped in leading a better and comfortable life. Be it as a ritual, as a tradition or as a need the
craftsmen have always given their best to the society. Even today their role cannot be ruled out; they
are not only the link to our heritage but also an important aspect of our economy. Today many
craftsmen like Mr. Lotlikar (master craftsman in Coconut carving) are trying hard to create a model
for unprivileged segments of society which could help them earn a living. They are not only trying to
revive the craft but also trying to create opportunities for the society to learn and earn for it.
• CLUSTER OF INDIA
It is estimated that India has around 3,500 such clusters involving a variety of crafts such as basketry,
mat weaving and cane articles, earthenware, folk paintings, horn and bone, leather, jewelry, glass,
musical instruments, footwear, pottery, seashell works, woodwork, coconut shell craft, metalwork, jute
work and so on. They may have originated for fulﬁlling the needs of their communities but went on to
develop into areas of commercial trading. During olden days, when the craft industry was supported
by mass consumption, craft making was a family tradition and every member of the family
contributed in the process. There was a ready market created by the existing social practices and
choices which were used for making typical products to cater to the demands of the common man.
CHAPTER 3 – Goa as a crafts place
• HISTORY AND CULTURE
Goa has a turbulent but remarkable history that has given it a unique identity in India as well
as abroad. The name of the region has been changing from Gomantaka to Gubio to even
Konkana, Konkvi and ﬁnally Goa over the centuries. Goa ultimately came under Portuguese
control in the early 16th century. It remained under Portuguese rule for about 450 years and
grew as a commercial port. In 1961, the Indian army annexed Goa, Daman and Diu into the
Indian union as a centrally administered Union Territory of the country.
On 30 May 1987, the Union Territory was split, and Goa was made India's twenty-ﬁfth state.
The state still exhibits the cultural inﬂuence of the Portuguese and is extremely colorful and
lively. People are very passionate about their hobbies which in turn lead them to devise new
sources of income for themselves. The lifestyle is quite easygoing and the people know how to
strike a balance between profession and recreation, seriousness and leisure.
The traditional side of Goa is quite rich too and possesses a unique legacy of different
societies. A variety of customs have affected almost every aspect of the Goa lifestyle.
Being located on the western coast of the Indian peninsula, Goa receives rainfall between the
months of June and September. Temperature remains moderate with not much variation. The
summer is at its hottest in May while the winter months of January and February are the
coldest. Otherwise, the state experiences tropical weather the rest of the year.
Mining is one of the principal source of Goa's industrial and trade development and offers
considerable scope for employment. Mineral resources are an asset of Goa and iron ore is a
leading commodity. Other important economic activities include agriculture, manufacturing
units of pesticides, tubes and tires, footwear, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, steel rolling, fruits
and ﬁsh canning, textiles, breweries etc. The handicraft sector also contributes a great deal
towards the economy of the state.
Traditional costume of Goan women is the 9-yard sari known as "Nav-Vari", worn with attractive
jewelry. Another traditional dress worn by women is "Pano Bhaju". The attire of various tribes consists of
mainly loincloth known as "Kashti " with a blanket on the shoulders called "Kunbi Palloo" along with a
tied knot and sari. Ironically, the sight on Goan streets is that of skirts outnumbering saris. This again
reﬂects the strong Portuguese inﬂuences.
Goan cuisine is mostly seafood: kingﬁsh, prawns, oysters, squid, mackerel etc. The staple food is rice
and ﬁsh. Again, Portuguese inﬂuence is clearly visible in the diet of Goans. Chocolates, cakes and
sweets are highly popular and of course wines of every kind. Feni is one of the most famous spirits
exclusively produced and consumed in Goa which is made of cashews, another specialty of the
region besides other nuts and dried fruits
• CRAFTS OF GOA
Goa does not lag behind as far as arts and crafts are concerned and has turned out a good
competitor in this creative field just like any other art enriched state of India. It can be said that art
virtually runs in their blood, which is manifested, in many artistic crafts that have attained
commercial proportions. They make excellent souvenirs for tourists. These items are crafted by
professional artisans in their ethnic ambiance, and also by artisans working at the arts and crafts
complex run by the government.
They are sold through various handicraft emporium and all major tourist spots. The art and craft of
Goa is the product of the aesthetic blend of Portuguese and Indian cultures. The crafts of the state
are intricately beautiful, capturing the fancies of tourists and locals alike.
These crafts can be at best described as a mirror of Goa. The major art forms of Goa include
bamboo craft, woodcarving, brass metals, seashell craft, Paper-Mache, and wooden lacquer ware.
Other important crafts of the state include Jute Macramé, Fabric Collage, Plaster of Paris, Crochet
and embroidery, fiber and Batik prints, fiber stone carving, Coconut shell carving, metal embossing,
silver and imitation jewelry, cotton dolls, soft toys, woolen tapestry, and artistic weaving.
CHAPTER 2 - Coconut Shell Craft
• INTRODUCTION TO CRAFT
The coconut palm and its fruit are famous all over the world for their countless uses and health
beneﬁts. The shell of the coconut is strong, hard and rough. However, underneath that roughness
lays an immensely beautiful surface which when revealed and polished looks no less than
decorative wood of the highest quality.
Raw but imperishable, hard but workable, discarded but sustainable; the coconut shell is a classic
material that can be used to create artworks, utility products, decorative items, jewelry and even
The term coconut dates back to the 16th century. It derives from the Spanish and Portuguese word
coco, meaning "a grin", "a monkey face" respectively, since there is a slight resemblance to a
human face or a monkey head because of the three tiny indents on the hairy shell of the fruit.
The origin of the coconut plant is vague. Many researchers suggest Malaysia to be the likeliest place;
others consider the northwest of South America. The fruit has spread worldwide mostly with the help
of seafarers. The coconut fruit itself is light and water resistant, it can keep itself afloat on the surface
of the water, thus able to be spread by currents. Now it is grown in more than 70 countries
throughout the world. The major countries are India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Maldives.
• EMERGENCE AS A CRAFT
Coconut shell craft has emerged and gained popularity in India only in the last few decades and
hence does not have a long history. However, archaeological reports suggest that this craft must
have been brought in from Iraq about 900 years ago. It could be that the wood carving artisans
from the Middle East and Persia were the first ones to actually try carving on a coconut shell.
When the Portuguese came to Goa, they brought with them their favorite hobby of carving on
any kind of fruit. Naturally, the coconut did not fail to grab their attention. With time, those
influences seeped into the creative intelligence of the Goans as well.
Due to the hardness of the coconut, it becomes very difficult to make products out of it. Only
highly skilled craftsmen are successful in achieving the desired shapes.
• COMPARISON OF STYLE
While coconut shell craft is practiced all over the world, there are a lot of differences in terms of
finish, design and form. The Portuguese coconut craft is very intricate and perhaps the most time
consuming. It is mainly coconut carving and resembles wood carving to some extent. Even the
coconut carvings of Spain have similarities with the Portuguese style.
A different version of this delicate technique can be found in the Indian state of Karnataka,
specifically in the city of Mysore where the copra is carved and the final output displays a contrast of
two colors of the coconut shell. There are slight variations in the craft in other parts of India too. The
carvings of West Bengal are very basic and raw, a complete opposite of the ones done by the
Spanish and the Portuguese. In Tamil Nadu, more emphasis is given to form rather than adornment.
Same goes with the rest of the South Indian states where carvings are very simple but the objects
made out of the shells are of a wide variety.
Coconut shells have been used since olden times; in Goa, the shells were especially used to serve
Fenni (local alcohol made from cashew or coconut) and also to serve food dishes. Considered one
of the most hygienic materials.
CHAPTER 4 – The Craftsman
MR. VIJAYDATTA LOTLIKAR He is the most well known master craftsmen of coconut shell carving in
Goa. He stays at Parra, Bardez, Goa along with his wife; he has been
practicing this craft for more than 20 years. He is originally from Pilerne
(Bardez, in Goa, India) was the first to start the coconut shell art in his
family. He worked as a teacher in St Xavier's High School, Moira, Goa. His
family business was that of goldsmith; his father, Mr. Parshuramis Lotlikar is
State awardee for his contribution to imitation jewelry. He initially worked
in their family jewelry shop in Mapusa, along with his two brothers. He has
completed his B.Sc. (2nd Year) at Panjim, and a diploma in electronics.
Mr. Lotlikar is perhaps one of the most contemporary craftsmen in India;
he has connected ancient belief with modern technology in his craft. The
product range of his coconut shell craft is very varied; he has more than
450 different items out of which 95% are utility based. His products range
from bowls, spoons, cups, purses, table clocks, candle stands, lamp
shades, coconut shell jewelries, buttons, decorative pieces, lockets,
keychain, Christian crosses, earing's etc. to exquisite home decor items
like door carvings made with coconut shell chips and coconut shell ply.
His product are very smooth and finished and very creative. Being a
goldsmith he has really brought the gold out of coconut. The designs are
not just a means of livelihood but an outlet for his creativity. . He has also
authored a book “Coconut – The Art of Coconut Craft” which was
released on Dec 7, 2009 at the Institute Menezes Braganza art gallery at
Address : Parra, Near Lotlikar bus stop ,Goa - 403510
Mobile no. : 0832 247 2067
MR. BOROMEU PEREIRA Master craftsman in Madgoan who work for his interest and passion.
Mr. Pereira an old man with simplicity and hard working attitude he
works in a small workshop in his house itself and as a contemporary
style of work. The product range of his coconut shell craft is very varied;
he has more then 100 different item which include utility and home
decor product His products range from bowls, spoons, cups, candle
stands, lamp shades, coconut shell jewelries, buttons, decorative
pieces, lockets, key chain, soap dish, shot glass etc. His products are
very smooth and well finished.
The list of tools he use are:-
6. Araldite adhesive
The initial start-up of the business was all self financed; he used to
create all the items as a collection and never for selling it the market. It
was at a later stage, due to huge demand, that he started making
items for retail purpose. Even now, he is able to carry forward the
business with the earnings that he receives from selling these items.
Address : 1.Nerul Stadium, Patolda ,Near Don Bosco Engineering College.
Phone: 94228 46907
MR. SONU KESHAV SHETGAONKAR
AND SONALI SONU SHETGAONKAR
A very simple man who runs a small coconut workshop called 'Coco
Arts' near Morjim beach in Goa. Born in 1968, he is a native of Morjim
district itself and lives with his two daughters and wife- Mrs. Sonali Sonu
Shetgaonkar (artisan, knows embroidery, crochet, tailoring, coconut
craft). He is a self thought artisan working in this field from past 10-12
years. It's his interest level that drives him to work with coconut shells. He
has completed his class XII and speaks Hindi, English, Marathi, Konkani.
His daughters are in school and are learning 'Bharatnatyam' very well; a
dance form that does not belong to his native place. This reflects the
kind of respect he gives to other cultures.
He started painting sign boards, cards etc. and undertook contracts for
thermocol decorations during Ganesha and Durga festivals, fairs and
other celebrations, The craftworks of Mr. Shetgaonkar are very raw and
less polished. They have a style of their own. The products are mostly
meant for home décor and have very less utility value. There are animal
and bird figurines, little sculptures of fish and tortoise, wine bottles, small
lamp shades, ladies coin pouches etc. His works are mostly handmade
For this craftsman, coconut shell work is a seasonal business. In the year
2009, the Goa government awarded him with The Directorate of Art
and Culture Award for completing a decade of coconut shell crafting.
Mr. Shetgaonkar feels that the government lags behind in supporting
the craftsmen and it is also difficult for them to get loans from banks.
Initially, he sold off his wife's jewelry to collect the startup capital for the
craft business. Gradually, GHRSSIDC extended a helping hand to a
certain extent. He mentions that travel expenses and food were
provided when they went to participate in exhibitions and craft fairs.
However, with time, that too has stopped thereby taking away another
source of motivation for practicing the craft.
Address: Coco-Arts , Morjim-Ashvem Road, Pernem, Mardiwada, Morjim, Goa 403512
Phone: 088061 11056
CHAPTER 5 – Material And Process
• RAW MATERIAL
Coconut Shell: It is a basic raw material used in making of coconut shell craft.
There is an abundance of coconuts in the state with two main varieties of the palm.
1.The Tall 2. The Dwarf
Within the tall variety, there are further classiﬁcations out of which the Goan craftsmen use the
Benaulim and the Calangute. These two types help in a better durability of the products because
these shells are harder and thicker than others. In Goa, the large Calangute is prized and hard to
come by. With this shell, one can get large sized- large products can be made. For Barren Nut craft:
Articles are made from the entire coconut, using the husk of the coconut too. The husk is carved in
the shape of the required design.
• TOOLS - SAW
Hack Saw Fret Saw Mini Saw
Hand Drill Cutting Machine Grinding Machine
• FILERS Rough Flat File Smooth File
Micro File Round File Triangular File
• PROCESS 1 Selection of shell The shell to be
2 worked on has to be selected very
Cutting the shell Cutting the shell to a 3 carefully. Select the shell of the
precise round shape, to the required required size, thickness and shade
size, having a smooth surface is a pre- needed to complete the article.
requisite of this art.. The shell is marked Check that the shell does not have
with a chalk or pencil with desired cracks, due to sunlight and wrong way
designs or lines. Using a hacksaw of breaking. Selected shells should not
blade it is cut on the marking. have oil marks on them. Often very dry
coconut or copra releases oil inside
the shell itself.
Cleaning the husk (katoh) /ridges
(siroh) 3prominent ridges are found on
coconut shell. They are seen projecting
outside the shell. These ridges are hard.
To get a uniform shape these lines
need to be removed. Metal filers are
used for this purpose.
4 Shaping the shell To start use a rough file
and then a smooth one. It begins from
the initial in the beginning to remove all
the ridges on the coconut and step by
step they change the sanding paper
with different gsm.
Carving & Engraving Carving 5
expresses thoughts and feelings to the 6
world – whether on a small grain of
rice, on a large marble stone, or a
Assembling the different pieces to make
a whole article. Two or more parts are
shaped so well that they fit into one
another leaving minimum gap. These
parts are joined together using water
resistant adhesives, preferably Araldite.
Varnishing All coconut related 7
handicrafts do not require varnishing,
but some like candle stands, agarbatti
stand, lampshades, chandeliers, do
need varnishing. It gives some heat
resistance and prevents shell from
The products made from kotti have excellent quality and are imperishable. Coconut shells are
abundantly available in the coastal regions, are inexpensive, renewable, have high specific strength to
weight ratio (unlike wood which is heavy), minimal health hazard, low density, less abrasive to
machinery and fully bio-degradable.
There is a lot of scope to use coconut craft even as kitchen cutleries. In fact, coconut utensils have
been used in the Goan kitchen since time immemorial. Cups, saucers, kettles, bowls, spoons, ladles,
frying-spoons, ice-cream cups, soup bowls, dry-fruit bowls ,almost every item required in our kitchen can
be made of the coconut shell.
Their traditional spoon called the doulo is made of coconut shell. These items are washable and
reusable. Curds set very well in a curd-bowl made of the coconut shell. This can be also kept in the
refrigerator. Even as a substitute for fashion accessories like buttons, they offer a very good alternative.
During olden days, the kings used to get their royal buttons made out of coconut shells due to its unique
looks and also, since the color do not fade during washing.
Coconut shell carving provides a good alternative to many non-biodegradable products. Though small
in scale as of now, this craft could serve as a good source of economy for the place in terms of
employment and tourism, if promoted on a large scale. This beautiful craft has already put Goa on the
map for eager tourists. This craft is sustainable in many forms and with proper initiatives from the
Government, could result in far better outcomes for the society by and large.
S SWOT Analysis
Coconut being a natural product has a lot of scope of production.
With the introduction of various ma-chines, working on a coconut
has become easier than before. As coconut is a natural product, it
is sustainable. It is also durable when it comes to decaying, as it
does not decay easily even when its exposed to sunlight and water
for a long time. Though it isn't completely shock proof, the hard shell
gives it a durable feel and a long lifespan.
Very often the machines prove to be harsher than expected on the
coco-nut shell resulting in its shell break-ing midway. The work that
goes into making it goes to waste. The costing is not too profitable
as the work that goes into making it is more than the market it is
supplied in. People prefer appreciating the product from afar but
not buying it ultimately resulting in less sales. The noise pollution
while cutting the coconut is immense. Also the lack of safety
measures taken while working on the coconut shell. Since decayed
coconuts are used, the decayed ma-terial smells making it difficult
for the artisans to work on it easily.
Being a coastal product, it can be used as a representative product
in restaurants, when it comes to utility products as well as decorative
items. It is a fairly new craft that is now up-coming with a great scope
especial-ly with the introduction of machines that can be used to
hone it into various designs. Since there are a lot of options when it
comes to the de-sign of cutlery made out of coconut shells, people
opt to use the durable products made from it
A major threat to the craft is the growing apprehension to climb up
on trees to procure coconuts. Now a days, it is found difficult to find
some-body to climb up on trees because of which the cost of
coconuts has in-creased significantly. The sale of the selling coconut
has gone down due to the labor required and involved in procuring
it because of which tourists who were the main source of buying
these coconuts refuse to buy a coconut for more than the costing.
Since there is limited profit, not a lot of artisans want to take up the
craft or take it forward as only the bare minimum is covered.