Aranmula, a small village in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala, owes its fame to a group of bronze-smith families who make the world renowned Aranmula Kannadi or Aranmula Mirror. This mirror, made entirely from metals, is a unique piece of art. A connoisseur’s delight, it is one of the finest piece of metallurgical art. An 18 inch tall mirror of this variety is exhibited in the world famous British Museum in London, which further supports its claim to international fame.
According to legends, about eight families of artisans were brought to Aranmula in connection with the work of the famous Parthasarathy Temple. In the course of time, they had a divine vision from the deity, who showed them a particular composition of metals that could be used to make a reflective surface which would give unmatched, distortion-free images. Gifted with the knowledge, the artisans crafted an exquisite crown with the unique metal composition, for their king. The king, pleased with the extraordinary work, gifted the artists with land and wealth. These families have since then settled in this land, where for generations they are involved in the making of the remarkable variety of mirrors.
The process involved in making of the Aranmula mirror is a long one. Copper and tin are alloyed with particular metals and cast in clay molds. The special metals used for the alloys are a closely guarded secret. The metal disc for the mirror is molded using the conventional lost-wax process. The molded disc is mounted on a wooden plank and polished with fine roasted clay powder and jute cloth applied with castor oil. This polishing process is an exhaustive one taking up to 2 to 3 days. Once the polishing is over, the disc is finally mounted on a bronze frame, embellished with fine carvings.
The long process involved in the making and its unique nature makes the Aranmula Kannadi a bit expensive. However, the cost does not prove a hindrance for the tourists and the art-collectors, who throng the village to purchase this exquisite piece of art.