one of the six categories of kammalas, are the traditional metalsmiths of Kerala, they trace their origin to
Vishwakarma, the deity of all craftspeople.
The Moosaris specialize in the making of cast bell metal utensils with
thick cooking surfaces. 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 work in Thiruvananthapuram; Nadavaramba, Irinjalakuda, Kurmamkulam
and Kadavallur in Thrissur district; in Manjapara in Ernakulam district; in Payyanur
in Kannur district; and in Kasaragod
cast include the urli and the varpu that are approximately 1 to 2 feet in
diameter and are used in most households in Kerala for cooking payasam, the
milk based delicacy. The large charakku, usually 3 to 8 feet in diameter with a
surface thickness of as much as 20 mm are wide and shallow. They have handles
on either side for ease of lifting. This
king of vessels and is one of the largest cooking vessels to be cast by man. It
is used in temples and at weddings and feasts for the preparation of large
quantities of food a tradition that started with the practice of feeding
hundreds of Brahmins and others during temple festivals and royal ceremonies.
cire perdue or lost wax method of casting, elaborate rituals and the
propitiation of the gods traditionally accompany the casting. The process
starts with invocations to Lord Ganapati and the ritual blessing of the axle,
the core is made using a variety of clays, each of which is selected for its
plasticity, bonding properties, strength or surface finish. 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 throughout
to ensure a perfect result.
A mixture of
pure beeswax, tree resin and castor oil, prepared according to traditional
means, is pinched onto the core in rolls or beaten into sheet and applied.
Gauges for resin thickness are affixed to ensure an even rim and a constancy of
body. A heater tool is used to remove the access wax while the core is turned
and surface motifs made of wax rolls that are carved out of wax plates are
attached. Wax runners, made broad at the top and narrow at the joint and
distributed so as to ensure a convenient and balanced inflow of metal are
placed at intervals.
connecting pins are hammered into the wax, theseact as a support between the
core and the outer mould. An outer clay mould is carefully executed and all
edges are sealed. The firing involves two simultaneous activities - baking the
mould and melting metal in crucibles. Metal is poured into conical openings
while air escapes through strategically located vents, a process that may take
up to two days. The mould is cooled and then broken to reveal the metal object.
items like lamps and small household vessels
are also crafted by the artisans.
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