The Thalangara tradition of cap-making
Abdul Raheem, from Thalangara in West Hill, is the heir of a family tradition of cloth making in Kasargod town. He is one of the few people who still continue a century old tradition of Thalangara caps. Raheem got this traditional craft from his father Abubacker Musleear, who had got it from his father Muhammmed, 60 years ago.
Two years ago when Abubacker Musleear passed away, his son who had previously helped him in his business, took over. Raheem has been continuing this tradition with the help of his father in law and a former expatriate, T A Ajaas for the past six years. Ajaas, from making normal caps in the Gulf region, now makes the special Thalangara caps which are sold in their own shop by Abdul Raheem.
Even after all these years, people still love Thalangara caps. These caps are produced using cotton clothes, cotton threads and other coloured threads. They get the cotton cloth and colourful threads from Bangalore and the cotton threads from Kannur. Raheem says that the rise in prices of the required materials and scarcity of employees has slowed down production.
“It takes around 15 days of work to get one cap ready. It’s difficult to keep this going with the workers. We sell one cap for Rs 90 and each of them costs Rs 85 to make. There’s no chance we can increase prices and because of all this, it’s not easy to continue this as a source of livelihood,” added Raheem.
He continues to work here to keep the tradition alive and also not to disappoint the people who love the caps, his father and those who come in search of it.
He mentioned how he remembers when people used to queue up in front of their home for these caps. Back then, they were only made at home. Now, for convenience, it has been shifted to their shop in the town.
They still send their caps to various places like Dubai, Qatar, Mumbai, Gujarat and Kashmir. Raheem said that 6 months ago a Kerala Handicrafts team had visited them and promised to take up the production of the caps, but no further action was taken.