Saturday, April 19, 2014

Charakku - The giant cooking cauldrons of Kerala

This is a Charakku, a type of famous cauldron from Kerala. Cast in bell metal (an alloy of tin and copper), these are said to be the largest cooking pots in the world. It is cast by a specific metal-worker community from Kerala, using the lost-wax method. They trace their genealogy from Vishwakarma.

The charakku is used in temples to cook sacred payasam (sweetened rice and milk porridge). In the past families also commissioned charakkus for wedding feasts, although this form of patronage now no longer commonly exists.

The process of casting is extremely complicated. A minute change in the temperature or consistency of clay or metal, or variation in the heating process, can ruin the vessel. Naturally the metal-workers begin the process only after ritual prayers.

Solar and lunar marks are often cast on the sides. The design has not changed over centuries; the curved handles and the heart-shaped design below the handle is commonly seen in old charakkus. This craft is dying for lack of patronage.

No comments:

Post a Comment