If you have a good friend, you do not need a mirror. The saying goes something like this. As good friends are a rarity in the lives of most of us, we all need mirrors to pass judgment on our figure, to embellish ourselves, to make sure that our attire matches each other and of course, to take out the speck in your eyes. And, Kerala must be proud to hold the prestigious asset of a special mirror in its treasure trove of tradition. Aranmula Kannady (mirror) is among the most significant contributions that Kerala has made to the cultural and metallurgical tradition of the world. 

Aranmula Mirror is considered auspicious and is believed to bring prosperity, luck and wealth to the family. Most of the houses of Hindu families and even of other religions of Kerala hold this revered artifact in their worship room or showcases of drawing rooms.  This mirror is exclusively handmade and its making methods are held a tight secret. The uniqueness of its making procedures is recognized by a patent marked with geographical indication. This bestowal came as a boon as this craft was facing extinction and its makers were leaving it because of lack of viability.   Apart  from  this distinction, aggressive marketing and Kerala Tourism  Department’s  campaign as made Aranmula  Mirror  a  much  wanted  gift  item 

Aranmula Kannady : Kerala’s own mirror

of tourists and foreigners. Aranmula Mirror is usually crafted in various traditional motifs of Kerala like conch, elephant head, peacock and also comes in simple embellished hand held and back stand makes. Its sizes vary and prices range from rupees 1,500 to rupees 60,000.

The  mirrors  that are used with  the bottom

layer covered with mercury and the image gets reflected from it. But  for Aranmula Mirror, it is a metal mirror and the image is reflected from the upper surface of the material, made suitable for reflecting. Aranmula Mirror thus holds the distinction of being the only metal mirror of the world. It holds a special place in the Kerala belief system, as Aranmula Mirror is  

included among the eight auspicious items of the renowned Astamangalya set, which is part and parcel of the auspicious ceremonies like marriage.                                                            The making processes of Aranmula Mirror are still kept a family secret of artisans.  It is truly a marvel that a metallurgical product of high quality, which can compete with modern day high end products, is made possible by artisans, who use traditional low tech procedures.  

This unique tradition, of which beginning can be traced from 16th century, still survives in the village of Aranmula of Kerala, which is a state of southern India.  Aranmula is renowned for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is also revered as Parthasarathy. It is located besides the holy river of Pamba and an annual regatta of Snake Boats is conducted during Onam, which is also a famous affair. Legend is that a Royal Chief brought eight families of experts in godly arts and crafts from Tirunelveli to Aranmula to serve in Parthasarathy Temple, centuries ago. Their main assignment was to work on mirrors. Now, Aranmula Mirror has gone places and one of its kind, which is 45 centimetres tall, even adorns the British Museum in London.                                                                                         (Burny Peter)

 

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