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The product, which afresh accustomed the GI tag, is believed to accept a history activity aback at atomic 400 years.
“To accept how this lock works, you’ll accept to accept to a story,” begins Pradeep Kumar, a third-generation lock supplier from Dindigul, pointing to a specific lock from a baby set of agnate attractive Dindigul mango locks placed on the bottle counter. The mango lock gets its name from its shape, one that’s altered to Dindigul locks.
We’re at Pradeep’s abundance in Begambur, Dindigul, which is sandwiched amid a jewellery boutique and baby alarm showroom. A chump walks in with a botheration – his affiliation accept bound the abode with the key inside. “What lock is it?” Pradeep asks. “It one of the columnist types,” says the customer. “You’re in luck, it’s not a Dindigul lock,” Pradeep replies, alms him a band-aid to his problem. Pradeep again turns to us accessible to attack into the story, a adapted adaptation of the adventure his grandfathering told his customers.
“A bullock barrow disciplinarian who works at a rice comminute has a key to the godown. He opens the godown to amount 20 accoutrements of rice from central assimilate his cart. By the time he’s done loading the bags, the buyer of the godown, who is administering the loading, gives a key to the kanakku pillai (accountant) and asks him to lock the godown. We all apperceive that the bullock barrow disciplinarian is a loyalist and can consistently be trusted. The accountant, on the added hand, can never be trusted. If the accountant were to go aback and accessible the godown back no one’s around, he will acquisition that the key he possesses does not work!” Pradeep pauses here.
“You see, the key that the accountant has can alone be acclimated to lock and the key the disciplinarian has can alone be acclimated to open. Whereas the buyer has a distinct key that can both lock and open. We alarm this lock Vichitra (their barter name),” he presents two keys – one that opens and addition that locks – with a flourish.
Such belief are ample with Pradeep who takes accurate pride in cogent them to his customers. “I’d do this all day. If the chump has the time, I’m animated to explain how a lock works with a story,” he adds with a big smile.
Among the abounding types of locks we’re shown, there is the ‘button’ lock – a altered lock that opens alone if you were to columnist a button buried abaft the lock and about-face the key simultaneously; a ‘direction’ lock that works alone if the duke on the lock’s advanced is confused to a accurate position and again the key is turned; the Saavi pudicha pootu (key that grips the lock) which is explained with a jewellery abundance robbery scenario.
Direction lock top right; Saavi pudicha pootu additional row, additional aftermost on the right
The saavi pudicha pootu comes with two keyholes and jams if anyone tries to accessible it with a altered key. “The bandit who comes to abduct from the boutique panics seeing the key bent central the lock and flees. In the morning, back the buyer allotment to his shop, he can use the ‘release’ key on the ancillary key-hole and be abreast that a robbery attack was fabricated the antecedent night,” goes the story.
There are additionally behemothic locks acclimated for temple doors, ones that makes the complete of a alarm at every about-face of the key, the sizes of which can be custom made.
A continuing testimony
Pradeep, who has spent all his developed activity affairs Dindigul locks, tells us that there are altered versions to its history and refuses to get into the details. “Everyone will acquaint you their own version. I can alone acquaint you what I accept heard from my ancestor and grandfather. There are altered names for the locks too, so no one has all of it right,” he credibility out. But there’s one fragment of history that he’s accommodating to angle by. “I can acquaint you that the Dindigul locks are at atomic 400 years old and there’s proof.”
Referring to the Dindigul Malai Kottai (hill fort), not far from his shop, Pradeep tells us that the lock begin on the fort’s aperture is continuing affidavit to the locks’ continued history. “It is absolutely anatomic and you can see it with your own eyes,” he adds, able to booty us there later.
Maintained by the ASI today, the acropolis was congenital in 1605 by the Madurai Nayak baron Muthu Krishnappa Nayak for his sister Rani Mangamma and was a abode of cardinal accent afterwards during Tipu Sultan’s rule.
From the central of the Dindigul fort, the lock can be apparent on the bankrupt door
The accent of the GI tag
The Dindigul lock afresh accustomed the GI tag, able a addition for the industry. A geographical indication (GI) is a appropriate assurance acclimated on articles that accept a specific bounded agent and is advantageous in advancement character and actuality of the product. While Pradeep tells us that ability about the locks is able amid Tamil people, the chat needs to be advance for Dindigul’s acclaim to ability further. “Tamil bodies who apperceive the amount of Dindigul locks may buy them, but non-Tamils don’t apperceive about us,” he says.
Pradeep goes on to busy that the bazaar took a assault as anon as the Aligarh locks entered the industry about the 1970s. Placing a baby assumption lock on the adverse he explains, “This is the aboriginal Dindigul lock, it’s not actuality fabricated anymore. It went out of assembly in the 70s afterwards which the Aligarh locks and again after the China locks started advancing in.”
The baby locks barometer 3/4th of an inch were priced at Rs 30 back the Aligarh locks came in for Rs 3. “Imagine how the bazaar for Dindigul locks would accept slumped. Back these baby locks were awash at Rs 50, the Aligarh locks were accessible at Rs 20, about which time the China locks came in for Rs 10. This was a setback for both of us,” he says.
Pradeep additionally explains that while locksmiths were bearing 15-20 such baby locks per day, the apparatus cut Aligarh locks were advancing in at 1000s per day. Anon the 3/4th of an inch Dindigul locks went out of assembly entirely. But there’s achievement that with the GI tag actuality accepted the bazaar would anon expand.
Need for added youngsters
Dindigul locks are bogus by accomplished locksmiths residing in villages about Dindigul town. Already abundant with hundreds of workshops, the villages almost accept a scattering today. The onus is on youngsters with a affection to apprentice locksmithery, Pradeep says.
“People accept that the ability is dying and that the ability of authoritative attenuate locks is actuality forgotten, which is partially true. But I accept instead of glorifying a decline, we should focus on auspicious youngsters to appearance absorption in acquirements the craft. The locksmiths I assignment with today are all aloft 50 years of age and anon their time will be up. They are accommodating to canyon on their ability but actual little bodies appearance absorption to learn,” he frowns.
At this point, T Marudamuthu, who has been a locksmith for over 68 years, walks into Pradeep’s abundance with a anew fabricated lock, captivated central a baby and decrepit chicken cloth-bag. He waits and listens while we altercate about the accepted accompaniment of Dindigul locks.
Hailing from Nallampatti, Marudamuthu has been alive in pattarais (workshops) back he was 7 years old. “There acclimated to be about 80 in my apple once, today there are about 8 of us who accomplish these locks,” he tells us in his bendable voice. About 65 years ago, back the locks were priced at about 75 paise, Marudamuthu says he fabricated 4.5 anna per lock (28 paise). “I accomplish Rs 130 per lock because I advertise them here. There are those who accomplish aloof Rs 80 per lock,” he adds.
The money he makes is disconnected amid him, a driller who works the holes in the key active and the actuality who does nickel plating for the accomplished locks. Marudamuthu averages 2 locks per day, abacus that back he was adolescent and back he formed for a allowance at addition else’s shop, he fabricated about 8 locks per day. “You could be assured that during the 70s, every branch about Dindigul produced 100 such locks,” Pradeep adds.
Is the Dindigul lock industry boring accident its accomplished labour? Pradeep does accede that the locksmiths accept been undervalued both by the industry and by the government. “Had they encouraged the locksmiths with incentives and formed a able affiliation that cares about their well-being, it ability not accept appear bottomward to this today,” he reasons.
But Pradeep is quick to abolish any alarming ideas. “The one actuality back could accomplish all the ambush locks anesthetized abroad recently. But we are award means to animate the craft. I fabricated one of the locksmiths annihilate a button lock absolutely so he could apprentice how to accomplish it. A few media bodies abominably appear that the button lock is no best actuality made. That’s not true. It can be fabricated alike today. All is not lost,” he assures us.
Also read: Visiting Bhopal – the acreage of begums, architectural wonders and museums
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