Whenever we visit any of the temples in Kerala, what strikes us is the intricate design and craftsmanship of the metal work done on the pedestal or the many lamps that adorn the temple. The heavy but artfully designed bell that hangs on the temple premises leaves us wondering about their make. Bell metal products which have a huge industry in Kerala is considered to be a craft form.
Mixture of brass, tin and copper forms the main metal which when molded gives rise to excellent specimens of bells, lamps and metal figurines. Cooking metals, known as varpu, are also made of bell metal. But the bell metal industry and bell metal products in Kerala is not a new concept. It is as ancient as the many temples that you see in and around Kerala.
Bell metal products are mainly produced in Trivandrum, in the Irinjalakuda and Kasargod area. The icons of various gods and goddesses in different postures like tandava nritya, gaja tandava and others speak of the artistic sensibilities and years of experience of the craftsmen. Aramula, a small village in Kerala produces another variety of the bell metal alloy- a beautifully intricate metal mirror. These bell metal products are known for their special reflecting quality and even years of neglect will not dampen that shiny quality. The long coiled arati lamp is considered to be a sacred piece of metal due to its devotional significance. Tourists from all parts of the world throng these villages and workshops to get the best stock and varieties of the bell metal products. It is tough to maintain a balance between large scale production and at the same time capture that sense of the aesthetic which is a trademark of these metal works. The craftsmen produce them with èlan and gracefully trademark their work.
While returning from a tour of Kerala, these bell metal products can be picked up as ideal souvenirs for your loved ones or gorgeous pieces of home dècor.