Vallom models are the miniatures of real chundan made of Anjili
wood, the Chundan valloms or Snake boat
are over 24 to 36 metres long with raised sterns designed to resemble
the hood of a cobra. These giant backwater wonders can accommodate
up to 100 oarsmen.
Kerala has always had a wide range of ethnic
boats which served various purposes of transportation. The most
grandeous among these being the Chundan valloms. The boat races
of modern Kerala have legends associated with them. When aristocracy
was prevalent in the state, the rulers of the various kingdoms
would be accompanied on their journeys by quite a few boats -
each for a particular purpose like carrying food, clothes and
vessels, servants, women, arms etc. These royal entourages, colourful
processions were an exciting spectacle for the people. Once royalty
moved out of the scene these processions became a ritualistic
tradition to be kept alive. The modern boat races thus have become
the sole occasions when most boats are used.
The first Chundan vallom dates back to the 9th
century and used to accommodate upto 200 men on board. The early
Europeans who came to Kerala called them 'Snake boat' because
of its great length that resembled the 'Snake boats' of Norway.
Today, Chundan vallom miniatures have carved
a niche for themselves in every home, as well as curio shops and
handicrafts emporia across the State. Hundreds of villagers have
made an occupation of making these models which are in great demand
across the world.
The Chundan miniatures are seen with varied decorations
- sandalwood or ivory fittings, brass buttons etc and are often
modified as candle stands, pen stands, key holders etc. Prices
range from less than a hundred rupees to a few hundreds depending
on the size, the kind of wood and embellishments used. They are
available at bargainable rates at fancy stores and for standard
rates at government emporia across the State.