In Search of a Mirror

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In Search of a Mirror

Nopes, not the kind Snow White’s Stepmom had but the one Goddess Parvati is romoured to have — the famous “Aranmula Kannadi/Mirror”. Day 18 of “One Day, One Blog” — a challenge I set for myself for the month of January 2019.

Aranmula “Vaalkannadi” or Hand held mirror

It all started in the search of a mirror which is made traditionally only by a handful of families in a small village of Kerala. The village, which by now has become a favourite haunt of mine, is called Aranmula.

The Aranmula Kannadi — the ones with GI mark — are easily available in Kochi (where I lived in those days).

But keep in mind that Chandu and I are the ones out searching for this mirror. The aspiring vagabonds that we are, do not believe in taking the easy way out. So a Saturday morning finds up driving down to Aranmula in search of this famed mirror.

After 10 years of marriage I still get fooled by his confidence. I thought he knew where we were headed. After we hit Aranmula and continued into the heart of the village, Google gods disappeared ( or it may have be Airtel who ditched us) and I realised my husband had randomly picked a location and started driving.

But good things do happen when you are clueless and lost. You ask the locals for guidance — of course, Chandu would like you to believe that THAT was his plan all along.

This expedition led us to discover the famous Parthasarathi Temple, their sumptuous feast held during Onam and the wonderful host at Malakkarethu house.

And of course, we found a few authentic places where the famed mirror is created.

The legend behind the mirror

A long time ago, the reigning chieftain of Aranmula brought 8 families expert in temple art and craft from Tamil Nadu to help in the construction of the Aranmula Parthasarathi temple.

Noticing that the crown adorning the Lord Krishna had a crack, he ordered for a special and unique crown to be created for the Lord.

While working with bronze to create the crown, the artisans noticed a reflective property of a particular copper-tin alloy which had some trace elements.

It is this alloy that is now used to create the Aranmula “Vaal-Kannadi” ( hand held mirror)

The combination is still a secret among the artisans of Aranmula, passed on from generation to generation.

The process of making the mirror

Mr Haridas is a Director on the Board of “Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam”. His family has been making the Aranmula Mirror for generations. The ratio of the alloy mix is a fiercely guarded secret.

(1) The metal alloy of copper & tin is prepared in the right proportions

Aranmula “Vaalkannadi” or Hand held mirror

(2) When we speak of the famed metal mirror, we always focus on the alloy. But as Haridas tells me, “ The uniqueness of our mirrors has to be attributed to the soil which we used to create the molds. The mud clay from the fields of Aranmula is the only suitable medium for this. “ They are powdered and refined and made into slabs.

(3) They are later converted into molds as shown below. The crucible on the top holds the alloy pieces within them.

Aranmula “Vaalkannadi” or Hand held mirror

(L) This is Mrs Arundathi, Haridas’s mother holding a mold that is ready to go into the furnace for the alloys to melt and (R) the molds inserted into the furnace.

Aranmula “Vaalkannadi” or Hand held mirror

(4) After the mold has cooled down, it is broken and the two mud slabs are separated. The melted alloy would appear as shown on the left most picture.

(5) An incredible amount of elbow grease then goes into making those refined surfaces which is inserted into the brass frames and shipped to the customers.

Aranmula “Vaalkannadi” or Hand held mirror

These are a few of the creations from Mr Haridas and family. They courier mirrors to you upon receiving payment. If interested you can contact him via whatsapp on +91 99461 90110

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