The gold-standard in nettippattam making for 4 generations and counting
Thrissur: The golden caparisons or ‘nettippattam’ on the mighty elephants are unarguably one of the highlights of any temple festival or pooram. When these head ornaments sparkle in the summer sunlight, has anyone ever wondered of the craftsmanship and hands that worked countless hours to complete them?
It is three brothers from Chakkalamuttath Kuthokkaran house of Cherpu, around 12 kilometres away from Thrissur town, who are behind these magnificent pieces. Johns, Johnson and Davis has been making caparisons for the Thiruvambadi side for over 35 years. 170 years ago, their great grandfather Devassy took over the task of plating gold over the caparison at Cherpu Bhagavathy Temple. Back then, their house was in Parappur. Since then, generations after him has been doing this job.
Back in the day, all the 7 elephants had their head ornament made of pure gold. Even now, the main elephant at the Urakam temple, which carries the idol of the goddess adorns a nettippattam made of pure gold. The pooram at Cherpu was the grandest of festivals at that point of time and hence the locals were persistent on having the best of the decorations.
It was the priest of Urakam temple, Keerangattmana Sankaran Namboothiri, who brought many reforms in the decorations including the design of the caparison. Chooralpoli, Nagapadam and Palaykka were introduced into the nettippattam around this time.
This family not only creates caparisons in gold, but also in copper and silver. The three brothers joined their father to help him in preparing caparisons soon after schooling and it gradually became their forte. The works for a pooram lasts for 5-6 months. They undertake orders for pooram decoration from not only Thrissur including Peruvanam, Arattupuzha and Urakam, but also from Ernakulam district.
First, they electroplate gold onto copper bubbles of the nettippattam. Then it is polished using silver so that it shines. Jose has received the honour of Arattupuzha central committee, which includes representatives from 23 temples, for his mastery in creating caparisons.
For the caparison of the famous Thrissur pooram, it takes hard work of more than one and a half months. Now the brothers are focused giving finishing touches for their nettippattam so that after 12 days, along with the other decorations, they will also add to the glory of Thrissur pooram.