Happy chimes for bell metal craft

 A bell metal artisan at work at Kunhimangalam, near Payyannur, in Kannur.

A bell metal artisan at work at Kunhimangalam, near Payyannur, in Kannur.

The neighbourhood of Kunhimangalam, near Payyannur here, harbours nearly a hundred families of bell metal artisans. But today, only 15 artisans are involved in the craft.

The craftsmen, belonging to the Moosari community, have now come together for an initiative, supported by the State and Union governments, to introduce the craft to the next generation, thereby keeping it alive.

If their plans materialise, the Moosari Kovval neighbourhood at Kunhimangalam will be a bell metal heritage village, which will showcase their craftsmanship and attract tourists, thereby expanding the market for their products.

They have formed a cluster, Kunhimangalam Bell Metal Heritage Private Ltd. (KBMHPL), with a grant of ₹1.40 crore, 70% of which has been sanctioned by the Union government and the rest by the State government.

Design workshop

The cluster, inaugurated by Industries Minister A.C. Moideen on April 8, will set up a common facility centre (CFC) with machinery and workplace for artisans.

“The cluster will soon organise a design workshop which will be attended by experts from the National Institute of Design. Experienced artisans and newcomers will be introduced to the new trends in design,” KBMHPL Managing Director P. Valsan told The Hindu .

As many traditional products made of bell metal such as kindi (water container with a nozzle), uruli (shallow cooking vessel), charcoal iron to press clothes, or spittoons are no longer in use, many artisans of Kunhimangalam chose other vocations.

‘Youth not interested’

“Youngsters are not drawn to this craft because there is no demand for the products,” said Ramachandran Kunhimangalam, chairman of the Kunhimangalam Bell Metal Heritage Protection, Study and Research Centre, a trust formed a few years ago to revive the tradition.

A heritage museum to showcase the craftsmanship is also in the pipeline. The project is being supported by the Commissioner of Development Handicrafts under the Union government and Handicrafts Development Corporation of the State government. The latter will give a tool kit valued at ₹10,000 to each bell metal artisan in the village.

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Printable version | Jun 29, 2022 7:59:02 pm |