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Swamimalai is located about 5Km west of Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District in Tamilnadu. Swamimalai is the main centre for production of bronze icons. Most of the village people of this place are exclusively involved in making bronze icons. This village has the school that teaches the craft of making bronze icons. Nearly 1200 people are engaged in production of metal work. Swamimalai is the sole surviving traditional center for Bronze casting in Tamil Nadu.
Metal statues of Hindu deities are made here using the technique of lost wax casting. The craft is an amalgamation of art and science creating poetic renderings of Gods described in the scriptures using centuries of metallurgical experience. The artisans also called sthapathis who are from the Vishwakarma community and have practiced the bronze casting for several generations.
The most recognizable bronze statue is that of Nataraja, the dancing form of Shiva. The popular lost wax method or Cre-perdue process is practiced in bronze casting. The tradition of lost wax process was practiced in the south region during the Chola period. The model of the image is first made as a mould and then the Pancha Loha-alloy of five metals Copper, zinc, lead and tin are melted and poured into the moulds. The mould is broken and the finished product is taken out to be polished. The casting is described in two types - solid and hollow cast. The sutras like Maulisutra, Nabhisutra, Akshisutra, and Bhumisutra are the guidelines for the craft making.
The products include the images of deities, animals, figures of males and females. The production of Bronze products is also highly concentrated in other districts of Tamil Nadu like Madurai, Erode, Tiruchirappalli and Nagapattinam.