Art

Precious lineage

The artisan who made the Makarakandi for the idol of Kesava Perumal. Photo: M. Karunakaran  

This is a rare story, not only because it is about a priceless newly made jewellery ‘haar’ or ‘Makarakanti’, which today adorns the murti of Srinivasa Perumal and is the second of its kind in the country. It is also rare because its creator Vishvakarma V.J. Lakshmipathy, an Electronics and Communication engineering graduate, quit his lucrative career to take up the hereditary vocation of handcrafting jewellery. “I was also inspired by my guru Veerabhadrendra, who was a Vishwakarma and a great Vedic scholar who worked for temples,” says Lakshmipathy. And so he began to craft jewellery for deities at temples in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu and even New York. And this is when many young craft artisans, especially in South India, are beginning to leave their hereditary vocations to pursue higher education and more lucrative jobs. Traditional jewellery making, has perhaps taken the biggest hit.

Lakshmipathy has been crafting temple jewellery for the past 15 years. “Although there is no special technique, a few sastric injunctions have to be observed. For instance, the motifs of peacock, parrot ‘makarapakshi’ and ‘yaali’ are allowed. Flawless stones should be used. I have made ‘kreedam,’ ‘hastam,’ ‘paavaadai,’ ‘satari’ etc. “My father used to make small jewellery items and I learnt by observing him.”

Lakshmipathy’s face lights up as he holds the ‘Makarakanti’ haar, which was formally offered to Srinivasa Perumal at the Vedanta Desikar temple on June 29. The necklace is the replica of the original ‘haar’ which adorns the deity in the Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram.

Explaining the process of creation the artisan says “It is constructed and crafted in the traditional South Indian style, which is generally known as temple jewellery. I take a gold plate of 18-gauge thickness and stick the design, already done on a tracing paper, on the surface of the gold sheet. Then I take an engraving tool and mark the design. Holes are then drilled for stones to be placed as per the design. A gold wall is built around each drilled hole to hold the stone. After each stone is set a thin gold sheet is fixed firmly at the back to hold the entire piece together….”

The evening sun shines on the ‘Makarakanti’ bringing to life the 36 pukhraj rosettes in the chain and the flawlessly executed pendant with its tiny ruby parrots ‘Pukhraj makarapakshis’ and the tiniest and the most perfect emerald peacock. This precious jewellery will adorn the deity on special occasions and be preserved as part of the great treasures of South Indian temples.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 10:23:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/engineering-graduate-makes-jewellery-for-deities/article7378485.ece

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