The popularity of Aranmula Kannadi, a unique metal mirror, across the seas has taken Aranmula, a small hamlet on the banks of the Pampa, to the world rural tourism map.
This marvelous piece of ancient metallurgy, that gives distortion-free images, has been a key attraction to many a tourist, especially those from abroad.The ever-increasing demand for the metal mirror itself shows its growing popularity.Aranmula Kannadi or Arnamula Metal-mirror making is a long, intricate process that needs patience.
Secret recipe Of arnamula Kannadi
Some ‘undisclosed’ metals are alloyed with copper and tin to case the metal mirror in typical clay moulds. The method used is the age-old ‘lost-wax’ process.
The craftsman melts the metals in a pit-furnace fitted with a manual blower and pours it into clay moulds of different sizes.
The moulded metal disc will be mounted on a wooden plank to polish it using fine powder of burnt clay and castor oil on a jute cloth. The polished discs are mounted on bronze frames with exquisite carvings. It takes at least two weeks to make a dozen metal mirrors and the smallest of them (one-and-a-half inch) costs Rs.1,200
The origin of Aranmula Kannadi is closely linked with Sree Parthasarathjy Temple at Aranmula. Legend has it that the local king brought eight bronze-smith families to Aranmula in connection with the renovation of the temple centuries ago.
The artisans settled at Aranmula even after completion of the renovation work. Their descendants became lazy and a public nuisance, inviting the ire of the king who ordered their eviction.
The desperate artisans sought refuge in the presiding deity. The artisan families had a divine vision that presented the composition of a reflective piece that gives distortion-free images.
The artisans jointly molded a magnificent crown and presented it to the king. A pleased king not only pardoned them but also honored them with land and jewels.
Since then, the artisans took up metal mirror-making their profession, presenting a masterpiece in metallurgy to the world.