The bell makers for any occasion- Traditional craftsmen of Zura village innovate wind chimes

Known for making finest handmade copper bells, the craftsmen of nondescript villages in Kutch Gujarat cater to both domestic and global markets with innovations such as wind chimes and festive decor using traditional manufacturing techniques.

If chimes could speak, they would speak about the artisans of this little rustic village in Kutch nearby India-Pakistan International Border, whose callous yet nimble fingers excell in the art passed on by their forefathers to them over centuries.

Gujarat is home to some of the finest handicrafts like rogan, lippan and bell-making. Nirona and Jura are such village which can credited for having  the finest bell making  workshops in Asia as Award-winning artisans and craftsmen live here, toiling with their hands to produce copper bells that are in demand in India and abroad.This craft of making metal bells ( ghantadi in Kutch) is said to be over 1,000 years old.

The contrast of the sound of the hammer chiseling a chime that emanates such a mellifluous sound that draws in visitors to the cozy workshop of Jan Mamad who has been in the business of crafting the bells for the past 25 years.

As per the market demand, his team of artisans has constantly been exploring new possibilities to improvise the traditional bells while preserving its core identity because today the use of these traditional bells has gone beyond domestic water and these are exported across the globe.

Fulfilling export orders on time, they have designed different sizes(from 0 to 1) of bells customized to suit various purposes as they are hung in archways; used as wind chimes; and added to festive decor. But the bells are still handmade and that involves a lot of skill.

The bells are made of iron and coated primarily with copper and brass. They are made from scrap iron sheets repeatedly compressed to bring the requisite shape. The metal parts are locked into place by expert hands without any kind of welding. They are then coated with powdered copper. Finally, a wooden piece, the gong, is fiited to the centre of the bell.

According to him, his 23 year old son also wants to carry this tradition after having completed his graduation. He believes that through experimentation, design & innovation, and marketing, they can make a mark in the global market.

Images by Vijay Soneji

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