Craftsmen : Suraj Prakash Maharana
Bell-metal, an alloyed form, dates back to the Charaka Sanhita in 400 A.D. The process was a heat and beat one using a white stone platform.
Through the ages, the craftpersons of Kantilo, a village in Orissa, specialized in manufacturing Bell - Metal utensils using the formula of Charaka, a famous Ayurvedic scientist in Indian culture who has given the proportion of copper and tin to be mixed to obtain the Bell - metal alloy. In Orissa, metal crafts were patronised and encouraged by kings during the 11th century for decorative use in their palaces, temples and in social rituals.
Bell-metal is most attractive with its soft surface and golden tint. A very ancient metal, it is costlier and requires great skill on the part of the craftsman as each object is shaped by hammering the hot metal lump into delicate and beautiful forms. Bell- metal plates, tumblers and bowls never tarnish or react to weak acids like citrus fruit and are longer lasting than steel. The rich golden colour improves with age and food stored in it remains fresh and hygienic for a long time.
A unique feature of Bell-metal products from Kantilo is that right from the making of the alloy to the finished product, everything is done under one roof by a group of three or four craftsmen.
The alloy, containing 85% copper and 15% tin, is heated and beaten into shape. The inside is then scraped to give it a golden glow, the outside is left dark. Ayurveda recommends serving and eating in Kansa for nutritional values.