Ancient Indian wisdom of storing water in brass vessels for healthy living is now proved to be a scientific fact. Extending the same habit, ancient Indians drank their water from brass pots. This culture was prevalent till the beginning of 20th century and that was when the stainless steel and plastic culture pushed out the use of brass as a medium of storing and drinking water. Modern world, enamoured by the comfort of stainless steel and the economic aspect of the plastic, had started using the vessels made out of both these materials. The wonderful art of making brass vessels in different shapes and sizes has slowly withered away and the beautiful and artistic brass drinking pots have gone out of everyday use and are now mostly available only with the collectors of these ancient treasures. I have managed to collect some of these magnificent antique Brass drinking pots and it gives me great pleasure to share these beauties with you.
I have grown up in the brass culture. In my child hood, everyone in our family including elders and children used to drink water from brass drinking pots or brass drinking lotas and brass tumblers. The elders used to drink from brass pots while the youngsters used to drink from brass tumblers since they are relatively lighter than the heavy brass pots. We also used to eat in bronze dining plates. My grandfather alone used to eat in a silver plate with a small patch of gold at the centre but invariably used to drink his water from a particular brass drinking pot which is exhibited in this article. The metal vessels in which the food is eaten and the water is taken actually form an integral part of the whole experience of serving and eating food. Along with the cooked food, my grandfather’s meal also consisted of microns of silver and gold absorbed by the hot rice served and brass microns from the drinking water. No one else in the family was allowed to use my grandfather’s drinking pot. Our elders used to call the brass drinking pots that of the size and shape shown in the pictures as Aapukara.
This is a magnificent piece of art work. My grandfather used to drink with this pot only. He lived for nearly 90 years and my mother used to tell me that he was using this for more than sixty years. This item is from our family’s collection and should be more than 100 years old.
This pot is made out of bronze, otherwise known as gunmetal. This pot stands on 3 supports fixed to the base of the pot unlike the rim on which the pot sits in other varieties of the brass drinking pots. It is also peculiar that the belly is not so prominent when compared to the traditional drinking pots whereas the neck is wide with thin rim like in a tumbler.
This is a beautiful and cute drinking pot. The belly is much larger compared to its height. The bottom rim and the rim of the mouth are almost equal. It has a beautiful design engraved on the body but you would now notice that it has faded due to usage through decades and antiquity. This item was gifted to me by my cousin sister Narasu who always supported me in my quest for collecting antiques.
The Design of the Brass Drinking Pots
These drinking pots are made with brass casting technique.
These pots have a perfectly balanced shape and proportion. The diameter of the bottom end and the mouth end is almost same with a bulging belly that beautifully tapers to a neck and finally opens up to a mouth with a rim. The design has soft flowing curves with the fine smooth finish.
The designer has designed the pot so beautifully that its base sits on the ground perfectly, the middle part with big belly shape holds a good amount of water and the smooth tapering neck takes the water gently to the opening (mouth) and the rim of the mouth facilitates ease of flow of water into the mouth of the drinker.
The neck of the pot is designed in such a way that it snugly fits into the grip of the hand when clenched between the palm and fingers.
The entire shape is aesthetically pleasing and functionally convenient.
The Most Popular Design in the 19th Century
This design of the brass drinking pots was very popular in that era. The same design was used not only for brass metal works but also for wood works, buildings, and other decorative aspects. I also have a Victorian style antique cot with canopy in my collection. The legs of the cot have a design exactly similar to that of the antique brass drinking pot.
The same design in a larger size was used to make an earthen pot for drinking water purpose called Cooja in India. Any design similar to Cooja is called a “Cooja design” in India.
The parapet walls of the terrace of the vintage buildings were also decorated with the similar design but in a slightly elongated style called Cooja design.
The Health Aspect of Drinking Water from Brass Pots or Brass Lota
On a recent trip to India, Reed, a microbiologist at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, witnessed villagers doing exactly this.
Reed, with his colleagues Puja Tandon and Sanjay Chhibber, carried out two series of experiments. In Britain, the researchers filled brass and earthenware vessels with a diluted culture of Escherichia coli bacteria, which can cause illnesses such as dysentery. They then counted the surviving bacteria after 6, 24, and 48 hours. A similar test was carried out in India using naturally contaminated water.
The amount of live E. coli in the brass vessels dropped dramatically over time, and after 48 hours they fell to undetectable levels, Reed told the Society for General Microbiology’s meeting this week in Edinburgh, UK.
You can read more information about the experiments conducted on the effect of brass on bacteria in the article here.
I have also written an article on “Ganga Water Lota” which provides some more information on Brass and Copper lotas. A lota is similar to a pot but it differs in shape. The article can be read here.