Launching Beautiful Handcrafted Traditional Brass Lamps
Do you remember the days of your childhood when your grannie or mom would light the brass lamp reverently in the little altar at home? It was done exactly at the same time every day, morning and evening. Even today, the same customs are followed, with the little lamp being lit as soon as the darkness closes in, like a talisman against evil. Symbolically, the little altar lamp banishes darkness and brings light and knowledge into the house, and the knowledge elevates us to higher ideals and wisdom. Our Quest To Discover Traditional Wisdom On our quest to discover more of India’s ancient wisdom we came across the makers of traditional brass lamps in Kumbakonam. The craftsmen of Nachiar Kovil near Kumbakonam and Vagai kulam in Tirunelveli district still make brass lamps the old way. These traditional brass ‘vilaku’ are entirely handmade, using the tenets of the ‘nagasu’ workmanship. The end product is lovely beyond words, fit to gild a king’s temple.
It takes these dedicated traditional craftsmen around 10-20 days to create a lamp, based on the amount of work involved. The craftsmen here are known to make the best handcrafted brass lamps in the whole of Tamilnadu. That is because even today, they strictly adhere to traditional scriptures called ‘agama’ that bind them to specific ways of making these lamps.
The Design of The Lamps These lamps can be tall or short – the measurements are usually exact, so that people can buy pairs of matching lamps. Each lamp has a round base, from which the main column spirals up to the turret-like structure with multiple points for the ‘thiri’ or cotton wick. The well in the turret holds the oil, and several cotton wicks are smoothed down to fit into each point. Each lamp comes with a beautifully-executed ornamental head, which is usually a swan or the Lord Ganesha. These heads are made using the lost method of wax metal casting. Sand and clay from the banks of the river Cauvery in Nachiar kovil are used to make the hard bronze casts. The clay here is very suited for this purpose, being capable of handling molten brass without disintegrating. Moradabad up north is known to manufacture machine-made lamps, but they are brittle and break easily. These two villages make strong, durable lamps that can be passed on for generations to come. Conclusion The custom in India has been to gift a pair of handcrafted brass lamps to every bride on her wedding day. By doing this, the families bless her with eternal light in her home. Handcrafted brass lamps have been treasured in our culture for centuries. It’s time we brought them back into mainstream life. Look out for our launch of these beautiful lamps soon!
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