Aranmula Kannadi – The fascinating art

Posted: January 8, 2012 in INFO's
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An Aranmula kannadi or Aranmula metal mirror is a special type of mirror produced at Aranmula, a village in the state of Kerala in India. Composed of a special metal alloy, instead of glass, the Aranmula kannadi is a front surface reflection mirror, which eliminates secondary reflections and distortions typical of back surface mirrors. The exact metals used in the alloy are unknown to public and is maintained as a zealously guarded family secret; however metallurgists suggest the alloy to be mixed with copper and tin to cast the mirrors, before being polished for several days in a row to achieve their reflective surface.

These unique metal mirrors are the result of Kerala’s rich cultural and metallurgical traditions, and have great historical and cultural value. Produced by a single extended family in Aranmula, the origins of the Aranmula kannadi are linked with the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. Legend has it that eight families of experts in temple arts and crafts were brought by the royal chief to Aranmula from Tirunelveli district to work in the Parthasarathy temple centuries ago on the mirrors.

The Aranmula metal mirror is a rare piece of craft that had existed even during the Vedic period of Indian history. The myth about the origin and secret of its composition makes it a truly fascinating craft. Aranmula Kannadi is not mass produced and is only hand made with all its perfections.  While commercially available glass mirrors reflect an image, because of a silver coating at its rear, Aranmula Metal Mirror is the only mirror which reflects from the front plane. This had its popularity until the advent of the commercially manufactured glass mirrors which proved to be much cheaper. The British Museum in London has a 45 centimeter tall Aranmula metal mirror in its collection.

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