Metal Craft Heritage of Cauvery and Riverine Regions (NIAS/HUM/HSS/U/RR/02/2020)

Publication Type:

Reports

Source:

NIAS, Bengaluru (2020)

Keywords:

Aranmula mirror, bell casting, blacksmith, Cauvery region, High-tin bronze, icon making, image casting, Karu bronze casting, Lost wax, Metal Crafts, metal mirror, Nacharkoil, repousse, Riverine regions, smelting experiment, swami plate, Swamimalai, Thanjavur, Vishwakarma, wootz steel

Abstract:

<p>India has a rich repository of surviving crafts practices that hark back several centuries with unbroken traditions. The Cauvery basin occupies a large geographic region spanning three states across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala. This region has in its own way represented an inter-linked geographic and cultural ecosystem. This rich repository of artisanal technologies is explored, particularly in the areas of metalworking and with respect to their connection to the local natural and cultural setting. These include the copper alloy image casting tradition of the Thanjavur district and Swamimalai, following the famed medieval Chola legacy of metal icons; the making of bells and lamps in Nacharkoil and the tradition of Thanjavur Swami plate repousse work. The rare craft of making mirrors of high-tin delta bronze (33% tin) in the village Aranmula, Kerala, which was also affected in the 2018 floods around the Pampa river is also discussed. Surviving blacksmithy practices in the regions around the Godavari river in Telangana and Tiruvannamali region of Tamil Nadu are touched upon which also supported traditions of high-carbon wootz crucible steel making in antiquity. Thus, some insights into the survival status and glimpses into the rich techno-cultural milieu of senior master craftspeople following various artisanal traditions are obtained.</p>