Joali, my way

I have been craving to have a joali in my home-away-from-home for a long time now. I have earlier day dreamed of how I can import one from the Maldives. Getting a joali to pass through customs could have been tricky as the wood will be questioned and the coir rope will be questioned. I never tried it before as I didn’t want to risk having it being confiscated after all the effort of getting it across the ocean.

Earlier I never thought about making one myself because I really had no idea how to get the meshing right. I am good at crafts but I don’t relish the time it requires given that there are more pressing things to be done.

When I moved into this new house, the opportunity presented itself where I could experiment making a joali. The crave for one was increased due to the sheer size of the backyard as well as the front yard.


The swing above was left in the premise by the owners. It’s just the remnants of a nice out-door swing that was elegant 9 years ago. I know the age of it because it was, once upon a time, a going away thank-you gift by my family to their family for their kindness to us.

Life has come full circle and this swing, the skeleton of it, was left for me to do whatever I want to do with. I could have thrown it away. I could have let it be just as it was – rusting and neglected.

I decided otherwise. I gave it a layer of paint. The old paint was grayish. It took me about an hour to get that job done.


I googled how to make a joali. The beginning was a bit slow. Trying to figure out the knots.


It took me an hour to get those two rows completed. Managing the long piece of rope was the most tricky and time consuming bit. Looping the pile through the gaps was difficult given the thickness of the bundle. I am guessing it will be easier with coir rope.



Completing to the point above took about 3 hours in total. Everyday after work, I rushed home, watered the garden and rushed to do as much knots as I can before the sun set and darkness engulfed us. The more time I spent on it, I realized it was a better strategy to just loop the knots loosely at first and then to tighten the knots for that row. Earlier I was looping the knot, tightening that one before looping the next.


I estimate a total of 4 hours (spread across 7 days) to get the seat mesh done. I hadn’t earlier thought what I was going to do about the back rest. By the end of the seat I was really tired of the effort and time it had taken, especially given the lack of time I had. Nonetheless, seeing the end product, I decided a joali mesh is what I need even for the back rest. But I told myself that the mesh doesn’t have to be so close together – and that way I could save time and effort with larger loops. It took about 10 meters of rope for the seat. I bought another 6 meters for the back rest and managed to complete it with that.


I got the back done in one sitting that weekend, and just before my departure home for a blissfultime with family.
Took me about 2 hours and a lot of frustration and back pain. The time and effort was completely worthwhile given the comfort of the seat as well as the look of the end product.


My next time-pass activity would be a truly authentic Maldivian Joali. An authentic joali (like the borrowed image below) requires only tree branches and coir rope – and hands to make it of course.



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I write as I think. I think as I write.

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