Mannar, a town in the Alappuzha district of Kerala, has a moniker of ‘Bell Metal Town of India’. The town has been traditionally very famous for producing metal handicrafts like utensils, lamps, bells etc. made out of bell metal, brass, bronze and even panchdhaatu. The uniqueness of its metal artifacts lies in the process used: Lost Wax Method.
Believed to be dating back to the 3rd millenium BC, ‘Lost Wax’ method is used for crafting intricate metal artifacts. In The process involves pouring of molten metal into a mold that has been created by means of a wax model. Once the mold is made, the wax model is melted and drained away. A hollow core can be effected by the introduction of a heat-proof core that prevents the molten metal from totally filling the mold. As simple as it sounds, the process is complex and is completely manual.
Credit for all the above images: Dsource.in
It is believed that about 200 years ago during the king’s rule a community known as Vishwakarma was invited from Shankarankovil and Tanjavoor of Tamil Nadu to built temples. They eventually settled here in Kerala and some of them took to making idols, bells etc. and the metal handicraft became their profession. At present there are only 12 units working for the craft. Earlier more than 50 families were working individually. Nowadays most of the family based unit artisans have joined big traders’ forges and are working there on daily wages.
Some of the unique works of the Mannar craftsmen include the world class products like the world’s biggest cauldron placed in an antique shop in Jew Town in Kochi, the world’s biggest church lamp at Kuravilangad Church, the world’s biggest temple lamp at Chettikulangara Devi Temple, the world’s biggest temple bell at Shimla Temple, the world’s biggest church bell at the Cathedral Church, New Delhi and the replica of the famous ‘Tree of Life’ and the ‘Knowledge Lamp’, the 17 century bronze sculptures for a museum in Chennai.
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