A sale of traditional Aranmula mirrors is on at the Kairali outlet

A sparkling Aranmula mirror is clearly the show-stopper among giant wooden handicrafts at the Kairali showroom on M.G. Road. A few more in various sizes have been stacked at the entrance as part of an exclusive sale of the mirrors on at the store.

The sale is part of Kairali’s efforts to promote the work of the artisans who have been engaged in making the famed mirrors, says Aravindakshan N.D., store manager. “Only a few artisans remain who know the art of making the mirrors and it is important to preserve the tradition,” he says. “It is a pity that not many people in Kerala know about the speciality of the mirror,” Aravindakshan adds. Kairali conducts an annual sale of the mirrors to create awareness on the age-old tradition of the Aranmula Kannadi.

Though it received national attention after finding a place on the Geographical Indications (GIs) registry of India, the legend of the Aranmula mirror has survived, peppered with colourful anecdotes and folklore. “It is very close to the culture of Kerala. It is one of the ‘ashtamangalyams’ and considered auspicious if one possesses it,” Aravindakshan says.

Unlike ordinary mirrors, which reflect from the silver nitrate coating, the aranmula mirror reflects from the surface, thereby eliminating distortions. It is an alloy of metals, the combination of which is known only to the families that make it in Aranmula.

The craft is handed down generations by these artisans, who are believed to have migrated from Tamil Nadu during the construction of the Aranmula temple. “They guard their precious secret and is passed on only to their future generations,” Aravindakshan says.

Most of the mirrors on display at Kairali have ornate bell-metal frames. They come in fancy velvet boxes, too. The smallest mirror on sale starts at Rs. 1,650 and the largest has been priced at Rs. 25,000. A ten per cent discount will be offered. For companies or individuals who want larger mirrors, or particular designs, they can place orders at Kairali, who would then place the order with the artisans.

The sale is on through May.