Bell making is an ancient Indian craft with enchanting origins. Traditionally used by farmers to identify their livestock, each bell is tuned to produce a distinctive chime. Our bells are made by a Muslim community, where both men and women are involved in creating music from lifeless metal using craftsmanship passed down through generations. Made from recycled tin and iron, artisans in the desert Kutch region manually cut and hammer the metal to hand-shape the bells, then coat them in powdered brass and copper before firing in kilns. Each rustic bell is then tuned to reveal a rich, unique sound like no other bell. Due to the nature of these raw materials, traces of lead may sometimes be present.
Due to consecutive droughts over the years, cattle breeders could no longer buy bells on a regular basis and the demand for traditional bell making was on the verge of dying. With the help of fair trade and mission-based organizations, however, at least 1,000 village artisans are repositioning this art form and earning sustainable livelihoods by selling the bells internationally. Most artisans work from their homes on local or homemade furnaces. Conscious customers, fair trade practices and a new international platform now provide disadvantaged artisans with economic stability and a respectable social standing.
Watch the video for more on the various phases involved in making bells at artisan Abdul’s workshop.