>> Kanchugara (Coppersmithy)
1.0 Craft Identity
1.1 Name of Craft: Coppersmithy
1.2 Vernacular equivalent: Kanchugara
1.3 Craft description: Kanchugaras create copper artifacts for religious and everyday purposes.
2.0 Locations (within survey boundary): Hospet, Bukkasagara
3.0 Historical overview
As a wing of the original Vishwakarma clan, this craft is historically significant. The craft is representative of tvashtr, or the face of Brahma that signifies the element of fire.
A. K. Coomaraswamy suggests that the most important ceremony connected with the creation or renovation of a vihāra is the Netra Mangalya, or eye ceremony, where the Kammāran (artisan) responsible for its creation comes forward and carves the eyes of the statue or image at an auspicious moment. Before the eyes come into being, the statue is a mere lump of ordinary metal or stone, and it is the eye that causes its transformation from mere matter into a god.
4.0 Works Process
4.1 Seasonality: Throughout the year
4.2: Materials and their origins: Gold, silver, copper and its alloys – mainly brass and bronze and pancha loha (An alloy of five metals), Wax moulds, plaster of paris.
4.3 Tools: Moulds, metal-working tools and mechanized equipment.
4.4 Work Pattern: Work is largely based on orders, but small artifacts and idols are made for sale in advance.
4.5 Products: Brass idols and artifacts: idols, armour (kavacha), gopurams, ornamental backdrops (prabhavali).
4.6 Pricing range: Depends entirely on the material used and the intricacy of the work.
5.0 Craftsperson’s perspective
The Kanchugara interviewed believed that during the reign of the kings, the smiths had ample work. But without their patronage, the clan has dwindled. While work is steady on account of the large demand for brass idols and religious artifacts, they have to fend for themselves and no longer receive the support they once did from patrons.
6.0 Lister’s comments
6.1 Uniqueness: Different kinds of metal are sourced depending on the nature of the order placed.
6.2 Socio-economic data based on field interviews: Most individuals interviewed fell under the BPL category, suggesting a low socio-economic background. They also tended to belong to the Scheduled castes and other backward sections of society.