KADAPA: Onipenta, a small village in Mydukur mandal, is world-famous for its brassware. Now, the sound of hammers crafting brassware that echoes in the entire village has fallen silent.
For the last 15 months, people of Onipenta, who eke out a living by making brassware, have been rendered jobless.
Reason: Covid-19, which saw closure of temples, educational institutions and markets and a slump in demand for brassware.
Onipenta Brass Artisans Development Society president FM Ismail said hundreds of people in the village are dependent on making brassware. Due to Covid and lockdowns, they have no work at present. “It is high time the State government extends a helping hand to artisans of Onipenta,” he said and sought provision of raw material at subsidy and other incentives to protect the traditional craft from extinction.
The brass craft tradition has been passed on from generation to generation in this village, located 45 km away from the district headquarters, for several centuries now. Legend has it that the brassware making tradition started in the time of King Janamejeyudu, who ruled the region in the 13th century. Sri Pothuluri Veerabrahmendra Swamy was said to be a good brass craftsman.
The village was initially called Kamsalivanipenta and in due course it became Onipenta and used to have 500 families engaged in the craft. Bringing raw material from Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Vijayawada, artisans in the village make brassware, including cooking utensils, pitchers, buckets, handis, idols of gods, goddesses and decorative items. It has been a long tradition to give brass pitchers and other household articles made of brass to the bride at the time of wedding. Most of those used to be supplied from Onipenta. Temple works involving brass like Dhwaja Sthambham, brass plating, idols, lamps and others are carried out by Onipenta craftsmen. As the demand for brassware started declining, the number of families dependent on the craft in Onipenta came down to 223.
Around 100 families migrated to other cities like Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad while the rest continue to depend on the very few number of orders they are getting. “We only know this craft. We can’t give up the craft and hope normalcy will return soon and our brassware regains its shine,” said More Veeroji and Sk Muktiya Basha, brass artisans.