A mirror can be manufactured without using conventional glass. They make mirrors from metal it is a rare piece of craft that has existed since Vedic period. The experts used “Dhatu” Shastra. Dhatu is metal and its science is metallurgy. They have expertise in combining metal like copper and tin to produce distortion free reflection.
Our ancient artisans made ornaments like bangles and rings, cooking vessels and bells by casting copper based alloys. While working on the alloy, they discovered the reflective property of one particular ratio of copper-tin alloy. This characteristic of the polished metal has been explored for making “Aranmula Kannadi” (Aranmula Mirror).
This alloy is a precious inherited gift which is kept a secret and has been handed over through generations which has earned them the Geographical Indication tag. Aranmula is a temple town near Chengannur, in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala State, India.
A few centuries back the head priest of Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple found that the crown made for the Deity had developed a crack. He then updated it to local King who summoned the bronze smith and ordered him to make a new crown within three days. The bronze smith was worried as he did not have sufficient material or time to fetch them. He came home and told his wife about this. It is claimed that while she was sleeping, Parvathi Devi appeared in her dream and told her the ratio proportions of a copper-tin alloy that shine like a mirror.
The crown was made from the combination turned out to be a marvel of art and craft. It appeared to be like silver in colour, as brittle as glass and had the shine of rare brilliance. When cleaned using wax and coconut oil it acquired the quality of reflection. Further the alloy casters soon worked out the ratios of different metals to make it more reflective.
The bronze smiths of Aranmula liberally patronized the artisans and even laid down an order that the mirror should be one of the eight auspicious articles used in all Hindu religious rites including marriage. Hence it became a very popular ritualistic article among the Malayali Connoisseus and this great piece of art flourished. Though the demand gradually declined as the cheaper glass mirrors were available, the popularity of this handicraft has not and never will.