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About the island

Handcrafts in Martinique

caribbean craft in martinique, the calabash

The true spirit of Martinique and its traditions can be found in the handcrafts produced by the local artisans reflecting the rich island culture.

Local craftsmen continue to work with the fruits and fibers provided by nature to create objects that are both decorative and useful as well as providing visitors with a window into local customs and the traditional ways of life. Designs and techniques have been passed down though generations maintaining Martinique’s indigenous heritage.

CALEBASSE

A wooden shell with a thousand uses, the Calebasse is traditionally used to create plates, bowls, food containers as well as cooking utensils.

In the local markets they continue to be purchased by locals for these traditional functions as well as by tourists. Craftsmen today also cut and sculpt the Calebasse to create decorative objects as well as carry bags.

calabash tree and fruit craftsmanship of calabash  

BAKOUA

The Bakoua is the type of hat symbolic of Martinique. There remain few craftsman capable of making these unique hats entirely by hand.

The hats are made from the leaves of the Bakoua plant which are dried and separated into ribbons which are then intricately woven to create this waterproof fashion statement.

Bakoua plant, vegetable fiber for plaits seller of Bakoua at the market, typical hat of Martinique  

VANNERIE

The patient and time consuming art of weaving vegetable fibers is still practiced in Martinique using antique techniques to create what can only be called masterpieces of hand craft.

Fibers of the cachibou and aroman are worked to create table settings, lamps, decorative bottles and chests.

woven fibers or basket making, handicrafts in Martinique    

MADRAS

Madras, a light weight fabric imported from India, at the end of the 18th century became popular amongst the Creole women who used it in all kind of ways.
Madras traditional costumes are still worn for special occasions and feasts. Don't forget to observe the madras headscarves, folded to display some peaks in order to show the availability of women in courtship, depending on the number of peaks tied into it. 1 peak =my heart is free; 2 peaks=my heart is already taken, anyway you can try; 3 peaks= I'm married, my heart is busy; 4 peaks = my heart is big, there's room for everybody!

traditional costumes Creoles of Martinique    

POTTERY

The hand working of clay to create carafes and containers for the preservation of food and drink is a tradition handed down through generations predating Columbus. Today, Charles, one of the few remaining potters on the island invites you to visit his studio in Riviere Pilote where you can peruse his array of colorful and highly decorative pieces from traditional items to day-day objects: vases, table settings, ornaments and lamps in various forms.

ANCIENT CRAFTS

In Lorrain there is still trace of ancient crafts lost by now, as the traditional manioca processing by the family Ragal and the production of sugar cane syrup at the Moulin Jouan.

 

processing of manioc flour in Martinique artisanal manufacture of sugar syrup  
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