Meet a yazhi, virtually – The Hindu

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar.  Photo: Special arrangement.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar. Photo: Special arrangement. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A 10 feet-tall stone yazhi appears in front of me and I try to touch it. But someone nearby nudges me to move on, and I press the trigger of the controller in my hand. More works of art appear before me: this is not a gaming zone. It is a virtual world created by Poompuhar, the retail arm of Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation, to showcase about 700 collectibles to potential customers.

Recently introduced in Coimbatore, it is a platform for artisans and craftsmen that offers an experience of seamless convergence of tradition and technology.

I walk past shelves of brass lamps, wooden trays and bowls, bead jewelry, metal wall hangings and more and step into a room full of bronze and panchalogha statues. In the midst of the statues, which have been handcrafted by skilled artisans, are a laptop, headgear, controllers and scaling camera. I put on the headgear and tap the controllers to zoom into a virtual world that displays metal, wooden, stone, and miscellaneous artworks in outdoor and indoor exhibit areas.

I decided to step outdoors to look at the brass lamps kept on pedestals around a tree. The clouds above keep moving and soft music fills my ears as I admire an Annam branch lamp. The 28x18x64 inch multi-layered brass lamp, weighing 61 kilograms, has intricate designs. An information board placed nearby says it costs ₹98,000. The room for miscellaneous handicrafts has a 15 kilogram vintage wooden chest and I hold on to the trigger in the controller to open it.

At the outlet, customers can choose a product, go near it for a closer view, have a multi-dimensional look, lift the product too, if needed, and learn about its composition, weight, and price.

Ronald Selvestin, manager of the outlet in Coimbatore, says the concept of VR started taking shape in Poompuhar about 10 years ago after the organization had an exhibition in Mumbai. A high profile customer wanted to see more handicrafts. But, that meant more expenditure towards transportation and handling of the goods. This led to Poompuhar looking at technology to take its high value products to the doorsteps of customers.

It launched virtual reality in 2020. But, it could not be popularized because of the challenges that came with the pandemic. Gadgets were installed at the Urban Haat in Mamallapuram to give customers a VR experience and was recently introduced in the city to reach out to more customers in the region.

Initially, about 500 products were available on the virtual platform and this has increased to 700 now, including thalai aatu bommai, fiber statues, stone sculptures, wooden artifacts and brass bells. “These products are not available at the Poompuhar outlets. And, many of these can be modified for customers,” he says. “They can see details in the art work, the exact shades, lift and turn them around. For instance, they can lift the bell and hear its chime too,” he says.

Customers can also look at products from the comfort of their home on the VR platform. This can be done by fixing an appointment with Poompuhar and a VR kit will be taken to their premises.

For details, call 9944843366 / 6374477600.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar.  Photo: Special arrangement.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar. Photo: Special arrangement. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar.  Photo: Special arrangement.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: An image of a viewers experience of the virtual gallery set up by Poompuhar. Photo: Special arrangement. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: A customer experiencing handicraft products through virtual reality at Poompuhar in Coimbatore on Tuesday.  Photo: Periasamy M/ The Hindu.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: A customer experiencing handicraft products through virtual reality at Poompuhar in Coimbatore on Tuesday. Photo: Periasamy M/ The Hindu. | Photo Credit: PERIASAMY M

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: A customer experiencing handicraft products through virtual reality at Poompuhar in Coimbatore on Tuesday.  Photo: Periasamy M/ The Hindu.

Coimbatore Tamil Nadu 13/12/2022: A customer experiencing handicraft products through virtual reality at Poompuhar in Coimbatore on Tuesday. Photo: Periasamy M/ The Hindu. | Photo Credit: PERIASAMY M