Bronze Casting of Tamil Nadu

The southern State of India, Tamil Nadu, is the foremost centre for bronze casting where images cast conform to the Pallava, Chola, Pandyan and Nayaka periods. The Stapathis or artisans claim direct descent from Vishwakarma, the divine architect. Icon making itself is a labourious, concentrated, time-consuming job requiring a number of tools with high level of skill especially during the icon making process involving the lost wax or cire perdue method.

The main centres engaged in casting images in stone and metal.are Madurai, Karaikudi, Srivilliputur in Ramanathapuram district, Swamimalai in Thanjavur district and Chidambaram in North Arcot district. The most famous of icons is the image of Nataraja in the dancing pose while other images include goddess Durga in the form of Mahishasuramardhini, Trimurthi, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer and Lord Ganesha who is always associated with good beginnings. The profession of casting bronzes is passed on from generation to generation and the art is a closely guarded secret.