Aranmula Kannadi is one of the authentic and traditional handmade metal crafts of Kerala. There is a story behind the origin of the craft. A few centuries ago from the orders of the king Sri. Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma of Travancore, a group of Vishwa Brahmana families (bronze craftsmen) migrated to Aranmula from Sankarakoil, Thiruvallur, Tamil Nadu for purpose of making ornaments and temple articles for Parthasarathy temple. According to a mythological story Lord Parthasarathy (Lord Krishna) in dreams of a widow, Smt Parvathy Ammal comes and reveals the secret combination of the copper and high percentage tin in the right proportions in making the reflective crystal and shinning metal mirror. The craftsmen happened to make a crown for the king out of the same metal proportion who in return applauded and ordered the craftsmen in making the Valkannadi (mirrors) which is one of the articles of Astamangalya sets. Astamangalya sets are the eight auspicious, propitious and fortunate articles used while performing homage and tantric worship in the shrines in Hinduism. These mirrors are also used by the brides of Nambudiri and Nair of Kerala. Various structures in history also carry the sculpture panels and friezes depicting the different figurines holding such mirrors like Madanika gazing at the mirror which resembles the presently thick wooden polishing mount at Belur temple of the Hoysala dynasty in Karnataka. Apart from the mirror, there are many authentic articles made out of the same metal alloys like gongs, cymbals, coinage, wrought vessels, musical instruments and other articles.
This craft has been popular and universally acclaimed. It has been marked under Geographical Identification (GI) in the year 2004-05 in Aranmula. Presently there are around nineteen craftsmen working on this traditional patented craft. This handcrafted and authentic mirror is kept for display at many museums like The British Museum in London which has 45 centimeter tall metal mirror. There are a few characteristics to identify Aranmula Kannadi (mirror), the reflection obtained on the mirror is possessed on the upper surface, whereas in a glass mirror the reflection is in the bottom layer, thus there is no gap between the mirror and the object when it is touched on the surface. Aranmula was the place where the ornaments of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala are preserved. Aranmula is one of the renowned pilgrim center of South India, in Kozhencherry taluk of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala. It is also known for authentic celebrations like the snake boat race on the holy River Pampa called Aranmula Vallamkali which is celebrated on Uthirattathi Day of the Malayalam month of chingam, to mark the culmination of Kerala’s National Festival, Onam.
Mr. K.A. Selvaraj Achari from Aranmula is one of the artisans who has followed successfully his ancestral and traditional craft to new heights from the age of fourteen. The original form of manufacturing the mirror is possessed by this one household of master craftsmen. Mr. K.A. Selvaraj Achari is guided and worked along with his elder brother Mr. K.A. Gopalakrishnan Achari, who preserves in giving the lustrous final polishing of the mirror. The two brothers learnt the secret of making these mirrors from their father Mr. V.K. Arjunan Achari and grandfather Mr. N. Krishnan Achari. Mr. K.A. Selvaraj Achari holds the president post in “The Vishwa Brahmana Aranmula Metal Mirror Nirman Society” made for metal mirror manufacturers of Aranmula. Mr K.A. Selvaraj Achari also owns their family store “Parthasarathy Handicrafts Centre” which is situated in Aranmula and his workshop is just above the stores. The artisan says that the sale of the mirror gained popularity after it received a GI certification. The mirrors they have produced are cent percent pure and handcrafted. The mirrors are also marked with a Hologram trademark. Many big personalities like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, and former president APJ Abdul Kalam have received the traditional mirrors as a memento on different occasions in Kerala. Aranmula Kannadi is also declared as an official memento to be presented by the government of Kerala.