The allure of the Aranmula Kannadi
Mysterious in its creation and unparalleled in its beauty, the Aranmula Kannadi has represented a fascinating culture and technological impeccability from time immemorial.The making of these wonderful mirrors is carried out by just one family in Aranmula even now. Displaying a few of the precious mirrors at a expo held at the North Indian Handicrafts Emporium here, Sudhammal, a member of the ‘special’ family gives one a peak into the special process that goes into the making of this unique metal mirror.
“The making of this mirror requires intuition, expertise and lots of dedication. It has to be carried out in a sacred atmosphere,” says Suddhammal, adding that the 1000-year-old craft was first initiated by a woman in their family. “It is believed that a lady named Parvathy Ammal began to work out this unique technique of mirror-making initially. She passed on the secret procedure of the art to the later generations. To this day,this secret has stayed within the ‘Mangalathu’ family,” she says.
Suddhammal inherited the secret recipe from her father, an Aranmula Kannadi maker himself. A minimum of 25 metal mirrors can be made in a single week, she says. The unique mirror, which is believed to bring prosperity to the owner is a mixture of two metals.
“We use tin and lead in a fixed ratio for making the mirror. This ratio is the secret element in the whole package,” she adds. The frames are usually made of bronze, but these days wood is also used.
And what makes it so special and different from the ordinary mirrors? “In an ordinary mirror, there is a silver nitrate coating, which reflects the light, thus presenting the image of the object with a gap between the object and the image. Whereas in the metallic mirror, there is no such silver coating and hence the object and the image touch each other, leaving no gap,” Suddhamal explains.
Though this ancient cult had Hindu origins,in Suddhamal’s words, there are no such restrictions in buying the mirror. “Today the popularity of the mirror has extended far and wide. Irrespective of caste or religion, anyone can purchase the Kannadi, the only condition being that it is preserved with utmost care and respect,” she says.
Nearly 50 mirrors from Suddhamal’s collection were showcased at the expo. Mirrors ranging from Rs 1,100 to Rs 25,000 are exhibited at the expo, including the highly- popular ‘Aalila Kannadi’, ‘Shankhu Kannadi’ and ‘Vaalkannadi’, all bracketed under the famous ‘Aranmula Kannadi’. The expo will conclude on December 19.