Octogenarian goldsmith recollects buying 4 sovereigns of gold for Rs 400
Thrissur: As gold price touched Rs 40,000 per sovereign, an 81-year-old goldsmith here shared memory of gold he purchased in 1964.
“I purchased 4 sovereigns of gold for Rs 400 in 1964. In 1969, a gram of gold was priced at just Rs 30,” said Perumbillissery native Subramanian.
At the age of 81, this goldsmith is engaged in making ornaments. Subramanian aka Thankappan is one of the popular goldsmiths who is an expert in traditional jewellery making.
“I started my job at the age of 15. I was trained in jewellery making under Manikuttappan. In the first year, I was just an assistant who arranged the materials for the work and also helped with household chores. After a year, he allowed me to start working on gold,” Subramanian explained his early days of training.
“I am still using the conventional method. When I started my job, I received a daily wage of 25 paise. Every year, I got an increment of 25 paise. After 8 years of service, my daily wage rose to Rs 2 in 1961,” said the goldsmith.
Traditional neck pieces like ‘Poothali’ , ‘Elakkathali’ , ‘Nagapadam’, stone necklace, ‘Palakkamala’ , ‘Mullamottu mala’ , ‘Manga mala’ , 'Mekka mothiram' (earring), stud and jimikki kammal (earrings) and waist chain are the major ornaments made in this goldsmith’s workshop.
“In the 1960s, there were only a maximum of 10 jewellery shops in Thrissur town. During that period, 10 to 25 sovereigns of gold were purchased for weddings. Following the India-China war, the government imposed restrictions on gold purchase. But later, permission was granted to make new ornaments from old ones,” Subramanian narrated.
The senior goldsmith who has an experience of 66 years lauded the modern techniques which ease the job.
“Earlier, goldsmiths had to make the mould of each ornament using wood. But now, we have tools made of iron for works like dyeing and moulding. So, anyone can make ornaments with these tools. Nowadays over thousands of people are employed in this sector. The advent of technology also benefited large scale jewellery making. But still, only a few people make gold ornaments using the traditional method,” said Subramanian.