Charakku/Cauldron Casting of Kerala

Charakku/Cauldron Casting of Kerala

Languishing Craft

Charakku, the king of vessels, is one of the largest cooking vessels to be cast by man. It is made of bell-metal, an alloy of copper and tin, and has a most attractive surface with an old gold tint that does not tarnish and needs no tinning. The moosaris, one of the six categories of kammalas, are the traditional metalsmiths of Charakku. They trace their origin to Vishwakarma, the deity of all craftspeople. They use the cire perdue or lost wax method of casting. Elaborate rituals and the propitiation of the gods traditionally accompany the casting. These high cauldrons/charakkus have a diameter of almost five feet and are wide and shallow. They have handles on either side for ease of lifting. These vessels are used on ceremonial occasions to prepare payasam in large quantities. The process of making the clay mould is so elaborate and laborious and the outcome of the solid metal mould so dependent on precise and careful handling of both the mould and the molten metal that special prayers and rituals are conducted to ensure a perfect result. Smaller items like lamps and small vessels are also crafted by the artisans.

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