Ettumanoor axe (1918) and the blacksmith of Vallamkulam (1970)

Let us start with courtesy of Blacksmith Narayanankutty of Ettumanoor. I googled ‘Ettumanoor blacksmiths’ and this is the video I found. Those who don’t know about the dying art of black smithy in rural Kerala villages may take a look at this one. It doesn’t explain everything, but tells something about a bygone era thanks to Narayanankutty.

Now here is the story.

As a recap and for the information of those first-time visitors to these blogs, my grand-dad was a school teacher in Kaduthurtuthy Government School from 1918 for a number of years. His occasional travels to his native village of Vallamkulam were veritable travails in terms of difficulties. One of the bus halts was at Ettumanoor, where one time a blacksmith entered the bus and sold him an axe for 4 ‘annas‘ (‘nalana’ in Malayalam = quarter of an Indian rupee, less than one US cent today). I have seen it and #547 below is how it was looking. He bought it without the handle, though! An anonymous blacksmiths of Ettumanoor made it. I think Narayanankutty of the Youtube may be a descendant because black-smithy used to be a family vocation those days.

axes

What about the blacksmith of Vallamkulam? Well, there was one very near the Chathoth home, and he was a student of my grand-dad too.

Those of my readers who think of Narayanankutty as vestige of the bygone era should also consider the fact that in ancient Israel 3000 years ago, blacksmithy was a sought-after elitist, regulated trade!

1 Samuel 13:19-23English Standard Version (ESV)

19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.”20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, 21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.

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