The Brass Smith of Desamangalam

Jul 01, 2016 | Vol.08 Issue 03
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Surviving Traditions of River Nila- 10: There are many folk communities, traditional artists and artisans who have been living on the shores of River Nila (Bharathapuzha) since centuries. This issue features about the only Brass Smith remaining at  Desamangalam and the neighbouring  Villages.

The Moosari communities of Kerala have been the traditional smithies who practiced the profession of melting and creating materials and utensils in brass and they are addressed as Moosaris. This community for ages had settled on the banks of the river Nila. With the advent of technology and differential life styles majority of them moved out their traditional activity in search of new pastures. But, Sivanarayanan Moosaari aged forty eight from Desamangalam is one among the few who still continues the tradition and he has work shop adjacent to his home at Desamangalam.

According to him his ancestors hailed from Mayannur and his father Ramakrishnan came to Desamangalam about 60 years back, to serve the family of Kanjhoor Mana at Deamangalam, who were feudal lords. Ramakrishnan died about 12 years back. He had seven children and the tradition of smithy maintained its continuity under Sivanarayanan and his elder brother Rajan.  Rajan died six years ago and now Sivanarayanan is the sole brass smith left in this territory.

As per tradition he still uses the lost- wax casting method with mud moulds, where the mould is broken after the process and the final product emerges. Apart from the technical skill, creativity and artistic skills are essential for this profession. His production is based on requirement and the demand is for oil lamps, ornaments and variety utensils that are used in temple rituals as well as in some folk performing arts. Decorative locks, door handle etc are also in great demand among individuals.

 Sivanarayanan has three children and the eldest boy is in studying for Higher Secondary and simultaneously is learning the traditional smithy methods.

About the scope and future of this profession he said “there are still many people who use these kinds of traditional products. The material is reusable too.  So it is a necessity to keep this tradition alive in order to serve such demand.”

Location/access: His home and workshop is at Kalavarkode, adjacent to Kalavarkode karthyayani temple. On Cheruthuruthi- Arangottukara route, it is about 1.5km from Desamangalam Koottupatha Junction. Nearest railway station Shorannur is 11km and Cheruthuruthi is 7km .

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