Aranmula Kannadi – Story behind the Aranmula Mirror

Aranmula Kannadi –  Aranmula Mirror

Aranmula Kannadi a unique art which is not found anywhere else in the world.The Aranmula Kannadi is not made of glass but bell metal.   These unique metal mirrors are the result of Kerala’s rich cultural and metallurgical traditions. There has been the mention of a metal mirror in many Puranas including the Rig-Veda.  The handmade alloy mirror ‘Aranmula Kannadi’, considered sacred and a heritage symbol in the southern state.

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Aranmula Kannadi – The legend

The story directly connected with the famous Vishnu temple of Aranmula, Sri Parthasarathy templeAccording to his commands, members of a particular community who were excelled in the temple art and craft were brought to Aranmula, from Sivankoil, Tamilnadu.

Once, when they are making the crown of the deity with the alloy of silver, bronze and white lead, they accidentally stumbled upon a unique reflective thing. Amazed by this unexpected sight, they tried over and over, with a number of combinations with different proportions of the alloy. Subsequently, this led to the unique proportion of metallurgy to make this wonderful mirror. The most interesting thing about this mirror is – that particular proportion is kept as a guarded secret. So the technical know-how is confined to a particular community of master crafts men. This mystery is handed over to the next generation verbally.

How to make Aranmula Mirror ?

At Aranmula, a township in the district of Pathanamthitta, generations of a family of highly specialized goldsmiths has been using the lost wax process to cast metal kannadi, mirrors, of an alloy of copper and tin.

This technique was utilized to create the vaalkannadi or handheld mirrors with cast bronze frames that were utilized by royalty and in rituals related to the temple. As opposed to the image produced in common mercury-coated glass mirrors, the reflection formed in the Aranmula kannadi does not undergo and refraction. Due to the arduous labor required in the casting process, a craftsman may make a maximum of 20 mirrors during a month.

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