Metal Mirrors of Adakkaputhur

Jan 01, 2015 | Vol. 7, Issue 1
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Surviving Traditions of River Nila-2 : There are many folk communities, traditional artists and artisans who have been living on the shores of River Nila (Bharathapuzha) since centuries. As part of the series of articles, in this issue we are featuring a traditional bronze smith from Adakkaputhur, near Cherpulassery in Palakkad district (Kerala, India) who cast mirrors in bronze. Krishnakumar is the one who creates metal mirrors in bronze, a method invented by his father, late Balan Moosari, some 30 years before.

When we hear about Metal mirrors, the one that comes to our mind is the Aranmula metal mirror, centuries old tradition and craftsmanship known to a few families in Aranmula in Kerala. But there is one family from Adakkaputhur, near Cherpulassery in Palakkad district, who also make these mirrors which are equally good in quality with distinct design. Krishnakumar aka Kumaran is the one who continues to produce these in traditional manner.

Like other parts of India, the traditional technology of metallurgy had developed in Kerala many centuries ago. These craftsmen hail from a community known as 'Moosari' who traditionally have been involved in making ornaments, utensils and kitchen implements in bronze or brass. Kumaran belongs to this community and his father the late Balan Moosari was the man who invented the secret combination of metal mirrors, about 30 years back. Till then only a few families in Aranmula knew this technique.

Continuing Tradition

Among the four sons of Balan Moosari, Kumaran was the one chosen to carry forward the tradition of creating Metal mirrors. The mirrors are designed like a Val Kannadi, a hand mirror in bronze, which symbolises the Goddess Bhagavathi. Kumaran explained that like in casting vessels etc, the procedure is similar, only the ratio of the metals, copper and tin used in making mirrors vary and it is a trade secret. First the mould is made using mud and clay. To enable it, replica of the mirror to be casted is made in wax and covered with mud/clay. Once it is heated, the mud hardens and the wax seeps out. Now the mould is ready. The boiling liquid alloy is then poured in to the mould for casting. It is then polished to get a reflective surface.

“It was a result of over five years of research and failures. And the support provided by his contemporary Kunnathumanakkal A K Raman Nambuthiri”, Kumaran remembered. He said “the work is risky and time consuming; it will take about 15-20 days to complete one mirror. Moreover, if we cast 10 pieces, we get only 3-4 of the mirrors in good condition”. 

Now Kumaran is comfortable, living with his family in his native place, he makes 3-4 mirrors a month and earns enough to take care of his family. Two of his brothers are also following the same tradition. One of them, Harikrishnan is a sculptor and the eldest brother makes the conventional items like utensils, temple ornaments etc., all in bronze.  “People from far and near come here to buy these mirrors; the main reason is being it is designed like a Val Kannadi, the traditional hand mirror in bronze, which symbolises Goddess Bhagavathi and hence these mirrors are considered as auspicious for every home”.

Location/access: Adakkaputhur is a small village near to River Thotha, the tributary of River Nila. Kumaran's house is situated just one kilometre from Adakkaputhur Junction, which is on Cherpulassery-Palakkad Road, 5km from Cherpulassery and 40km from Palakkad town(Kerala, India)

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I am interested to buy one of this and need to have the contact number of this gentleman

Contact Welcome Kerala Magazine : 9388131777

hello Murali, did you manage to get the man's contact details? I am also trying to reach him.

Contact: +91 9446280603 / 9388131777 (Welcome Kerala )

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