Art of Lock making may not seem very intriguing to many of us living in the age of automation and bar-codes. But it was quite a fascinating craft not so long ago.
Almost a century old craft as they say ,the locksmiths of Dindigul and nearby cluster of villages in southern Tamil Nadu continue to make handcrafted locks of different varieties.
History of Lock making in Dindigul dates back to the time almost 200 years back when Sankaralinga Asari of Dindigul married the daughter of a locksmith there. He brought the art of Lock making in the draught struck town. There is also an colony called Asari colony named after him.
Locks were made of scrap of brass, steel or other metal. Some kind of locks they used to make for lockers ,provided with only single key so if the original key was lost one had to travel all the way to Dindigul to get a duplicate key.
People still keep coming for duplicate key for the locks made a hundred years ago.
Locksmiths came up with innovative techniques to outsmart the mischievous wit of thieves. They invented the various locks with their ingenuity and knack of making threadbare locks.
One of such model called Kolaikaaran Pottu or killer lock having a feature if one inserted a wrong key in it a sharp knife will pop out of it to inflict the fingers. These locks were generally used in safety lockers and Almirahs. The other such model is Saavipudi Pottu which would get jammed and defunct if wrong key was instead in it.
There were other model like mango locks and trick locks, would come with the combination of keys but unfortunately after the Advent of cheaper Chinese locks they couldn’t find any doors to guard and eventually end up being a show thing to be admired by ignorant humanity.
Dindigul’s lock industry which was once a thriving handcrafted industry is now on the verge of extinction. Only a few locksmiths are persistent with tradition of Look making. As cost of handcrafted locks is higher only a few people who know the their values buy them. Imposition of GST has further increased the cost if these handcrafted locks putting the industry out of competitive markets.