Some of the earliest mirrors used in prehistoric times were simply reflections from a dark, still body of water.  About 6,000 years ago, people began making mirrors from polished obsidian stone - volcanic glass - and metal such as copper and bronze. Today, modern mirrors are glass with a silvered backing - sometimes nickel or chromium is used. 

Watch this Business Insider special on how an Indian family in Aranmula, Kerala,  still makes perfect, distortion-free metal mirrors, by hand. This tradition goes back 500 years - the composition of the copper-tin alloy used is a family secret, passed down through each generation.  

Why are these mirrors "perfect"? It is because they are front-reflecting and thus not subject to any distortions unlike the mirrors we use today.  The reflection of ordinary mirrors takes place at the back of the glass where the silver metal is, so light tends to get refracted (or bent) as it passes through the glass. 

These mirrors are called Aranmula kannadi. Originally used only by royalty and in temples, these mirrors are now regarded as harbingers of good luck and prosperity, a great wedding or housewarming gift. 

Sudhammal J is an unusual artisan as she is the only female in this very rare craft. A legacy passed down to her from her father who wanted the craft to continue after he died. She and her family work 10 hour days to make these metal mirrors completely by hand. The small business has been through very difficult times including a devastating flood which destroyed their tools and inventory and more recently, the pandemic.  But they still persevere to preserve this beautiful craft.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM