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Antique Brass Sweets Carrier
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier

 

This wonderful brass vessel with a lid is used store and carries sweets like Laddu. In my younger days I used to see ladies in silk saris come to our house carrying vessels like this each one holding different sweets. The ladies used to ask my mother to give them a plate and would place on the plate one sweet item from each brass carrier. I used to be enamoured by the shining brass sweet carrier vessels. After placing the delicious sweets in the plate used to close lid and hold the vessel by its handle and leave our house to repeat the same ritual in the next house. Normally, in our village families used to distribute sweets when the new bride comes to their house and this is the way they welcome the new member into the family and declare and introduce to the close community of the village. Each family used to have variety of brass carrier vessels in different shapes and sizes for this purpose. If certain families do not have such vessels, they would borrow them from those who have.

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- with sweet laddus
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- with sweet laddus

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-showing with the handle upwards
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-showing with the handle upwards

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-carrier and lid shown separately
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-carrier and lid shown separately

 

It is a tradition in Hindu South Indian marriages that the bride’s family gives a variety of sweets to groom’s family in a function called Appagintalu (it means to hand over) followed by Tagavu. Appagintalu is an emotional ceremony in which the bride’s family formally hands over the bride to the groom’s family. After this ritual,there is another function called Taguvu in which the bride’s family would give gifts to the groom’s family including variety of sweets like Laddu, Minapasunni, Kaajalu, Palakova, chanividi, Arisalu, Badusha ,sugar candy in the shape of parrots  called Panchadara Cilakalu and the inivitable Chanividi and few savoury items. The variety of sweets and the savoury items depend on the economic status of the family. Even in families with a low budget it is a custom to distribute least three items –Chanivid, Laddu and Jantikalu (Jantikaluis a savoury item). It is a faith that Chanividi brings well being to the bride when she brings it from her mother’s house and feeds the other families who would bless the bride with progeny and prosperity with the sweet tongue after tasting the sweet.

 

Marriage function bride’s family gifting sweet laddus to groom's family
Marriage function bride’s family gifting sweet laddus to groom’s family

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- top view
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- top view

 

Picture showing the beautiful design around the body of the carrier
Picture showing the beautiful design around the body of the carrier

 

Saari is a tradition in which the bride brings gifts from her mother’s house to her in-laws house mainly on two occasions. That is when she comes first time to the in-law’s house and secondly when she comes to in-laws house with her first baby. It is a practice in Andhra families that the pregnant lady would go to mothers place for delivery. When she is seven months pregnant, she goes to her mother’s house for delivery and will return to husband’s house after delivery, when the baby is three months old or at times seven months old. This is the time she will brings variety of sweets and savoury items for consumption in the family and as well as for distributing among neighbours, friends and relatives. Along with the sweets, the new mother will also bring and distribute a doll to each family along with the sweets called Bommasaari, signifying and announcing the news that she has given birth to a baby. There is a deep significance for each and every sweet distributed during this occasion that has bearing on the developmental stages of the baby. Each item signifies one stage of the progressive development of the baby, from birth until three months and doing of an act for the first time by the baby like- NavvukiNuvvundalu (sweet balls of sesame seeds for first time laughing by the baby), chongakiChakkilalu (a type of roundish starch based fried savoury dish for first time saliva generation), Palukulakichilakalu (sugar candy in the shape of a parrot for the first time talking), moodonelaki muddakudumulu (balls of steamed rice granules for attaining  third month). In third month the baby normally opens the clenched fists for the first time. In celebration of this event Muddakudumulu are prepared. Since Muddakudumulu have short shelf life, normally sweet Laddus are distributed in their place. And the list goes on depending on the interest, enthusiasm and the financial condition of the family. In saari traditions, sweets are distributed in the vessels similar to the Antique Brass sweets Carrier.

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- an angle view
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- an angle view

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-showing the rivets for the handle
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier-showing the rivets for the handle

 

This bucket shaped sweets carrier vessel is acquired by me from a family in village named Teki in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India. There is an inscription on this enchanting vessel reading as “DhulipallaLakshminarayanamma”  meaning that this vessel belongs to a lady named with family name “Dhulipalla” and her name is “Lakshminarayanamma”.

This brass pail carrier with the lid is 16 inches tall from bottom to the handle top,and the height without the handle is 8.5 inches. This bucket shaped pot sits on a round rim which is 1 inch high.The top opening of the bucket shaped pot is 10 inches diameter. The handle is a semi-circular brass rod with “U” shaped curves at the both ends which are inserted into the holes of the two riveted brass plates with copper rivets.

 

Picture showing inscription of the name “DhulipalaLakshminarayanamma”
Picture showing inscription of the name “DhulipalaLakshminarayanamma”

 

Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- showing tin coating
Antique Brass Sweets Carrier- showing tin coating

 

This lovely container is coated with Tin inside. This tin coating is also called Tagarampoota in Telugu language and helps to prevent the contents from directly in contact with the brass material since some food items react chemically with brass.This container has the double benefit of having protective tin inside and beautiful brass material with its golden hue outside. The tin coating wears away in certain vessels due to constant usage and cleaning. In such a case a re-coating is necessary for healthy food storage and serving.

 

 

 

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Antique Brass Vanity Box

Antique Brass Vanity Box
Antique Brass Vanity Box

 

This is an Antique Brass Vanity box. In the earlier days women did not have an elaborate dressing table or assortments of creams and powders to beautify themselves. Women lived a simple life that evaded them from the likes of pretentious beauty and comparison. The kinds of items used by women were the same. These items were not customized based on skin type and color. The vanity box consisted of the bare essentials that were deemed necessary for a woman to use on daily basis. These items did not change on special occasions.

Have you ever wondered about how your grandparents dressed up without access to a full length mirror? This little vanity box consist of a small mirror, a box of kumkum (made from saffron or a mixture of turmeric and slaked lime), a comb, a box of homemade kajal (kohl) and on occasions talcum powder.

 

Top view of the Vanity Box
Top view of the Vanity Box

  

Inside View of the Vanity Box
Inside View of the Vanity Box

 

The box is made of brass and has mesh like designs that keeps the contents of the box from succumbing to humidity. These designs are that of flowers. On careful observation we will also see an intricately carved and embossed vine like design on the lid of the box. The vanity box consists of a latch that can be locked to keep children from gaining access to its contents. The lid of the box is attached using hinges. The lid also consists of a handle that helps in the easy movement of the box. The entire box is handmade. The artisan has designed uneven circles around the box. At the base of the vanity box are four small legs.

Mesh like design throughout the Box to allow air flow
Mesh like design throughout the Box to allow air flow

 

A view of the Latch and legs
A view of the Latch and legs

 

Lid Attached with Hinges
Lid Attached with Hinges

 

 Flowers and embossed vine like design with handle
Flowers and embossed vine like design with handle

 

An average Indian woman’s day would start in the wee hour of dawn before the family woke up and the sun is too lazy to shine bright. After she is bathed, she pulls out this box from a corner of a trunk or a cupboard, and ever so slowly she will put use the contents of the vanity box. She will first make a bindi or bottu using the kumkum. She takes a little kumkum on her middle finger, places it between her brows and moves it in a circular motion until a satisfying size is reached. She does this while holding the mirror in her left hand. In the same way, she dabs her index finger in the box of kajal. She uses her middle finger to open the eye and the index finger to apply kajal into it. She then combs her hair and usually wears it in a bun or a braid.

 

 

 

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Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin Box Carrier

Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin box carrier
Vintage Brass 5-Tier Tiffin box carrier

 

This vintage brass 5-tier tiffin box was used by me during my school days to carry lunch to my school. I was born in the year 1940. My grandfather who was a head master for the only elementary school we had in our village Someswaram, in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India, had admitted me into the school when I was five years old after doing proper pooja and ceremonial Akharabhyasam (writing OM first time on the slate). I started going to school along with my grandfather Sri Yenugu Krishna Murthy carrying a palaka and balapam (stone slate and stone pencil) in a cotton bag. This was all my school kit. I graduated from 5th standard when I was 10 years old and that was the maximum education my school could offer. The nearest high school was 5 kilometres away and the only way to reach there was by a bicycle. Since I was considered as too young to go alone on a bicycle, my grandfather decided I should stay with my uncle Sri Rajupanthlu garu in the town Peddapuram.

I was admitted in the ULCM High School, Peddapuramin the 1st form (now equivalent of 6th standard) and I successfully completed my 3rd form when I was 13 years old. By then, I was considered eligible to ride a bicycle. So I was shifted back to our village Someswaram and got admitted in a high school in a village named Rayavaram about 5 kilometres from my village. I got a new cycle and a tiffin carrier with 5 boxes in the year 1953. I do not know if I got a brand new lunch box or an already old one by then. Let us consider that as new at that time. That brings us to the age of this 5-tier brass tiffin box set at 60 years old.

Complete assembly of Tiffin carrier showing 5 dabbas, frame, spoon and handle
Complete assembly of Tiffin carrier showing 5 dabbas, frame, spoon and handle

 

Tiffin carrier shown in dismantled condition-five dabbas, top lid, frame and spoon
Tiffin carrier shown in dismantled condition-five dabbas, top lid, frame and spoon

 

Brass tiffin box showing the inside tin coating
Brass tiffin box showing the inside tin coating

 

This 13 inches tall lunch carrier has an assembly of five containers- a large one with 3 inches height, three medium sized ones with 2 inches height and a one small one (5th one) with one inch height. All the round boxes are 4.5 inches wide (diameter). All the five containers are held tight by a brass strap frame resembling an inverted “U”shape that has a bent at the top. The two parallel sections have grooves that fit snugly into the knobs on the lower container. The upper most box tightly fits into the bent part of the “U”. The top part of the “U” is used as a handle to carry the tiffin carrier assembly. There is an aluminium spoon that holds the boxes and the frame together. The brass frame has two holes at the bent, and the top vessel lid has a knob with one hole. When the frame is pushed on to the five container assembly, the two holes in the frame and the hole at the top box lid come in a single straight line and the aluminium spoon is inserted through the 3 holes. That seals the assembly tight.

The lunch carrier has a stamping on the top vessel cover reading as ” 41/2“meaning there are four and half containers in the assembly.The top box which is of 1 inch height is considered as half box. There is also another stamping giving the patent details reading as “Patent1937 HK22729”. This reveals that this design was patented in the year 1937. I do not know who the manufacturer is but with the help of patent number maybe we can find the manufacturer. All the vessels are coated with tin coating, locally known as tagarampoota. This coating is given to prevent the contact of the food with brass metal since brass reacts chemically with certain types of food materials, particularly Tamarind juice, which is profusely used in Andhra food preparations, and also with lime juice.That is precisely the reason as to why an Aluminium spoon is used instead of a brass spoon.The spoon is used for locking purpose and also as a spoon for serving and eating purpose.You cannot eat food with brass spoon for the reason of chemical reaction. Hence aluminium spoon is used which serves both the purpose.

 

“Patent“ mark and “4 ½ “ capacity mark shown on the top lid of the tiffin carrier
“Patent“ mark and “4 ½ “ capacity mark shown on the top lid of the tiffin carrier

 

The “U” shaped frame fixed to the bottom box and two holes shown at the bend of the “U”
The “U” shaped frame fixed to the bottom box and two holes shown at the bend of the “U”

 

Top lid showing knob and the hole
Top lid showing knob and the hole

 

I used to start from home at 9 a.m. every day to school and my mother used to keep my lunch carrier, which she used to call it dabba, ready by the same time packed with hot food for my mid-day meal. She used to pack rice in the big dabba at the bottom, the second one with the pulusu or pappu, the third one with vegetable curry, the fourth one with curd and the top one with pickle. The pickle will be either Aavakaya with badda ( mango slice) or Maagaya with juicy tenka (mango seed). I used to keep the hot brass tiffin box into a cotton bag with handles and hang the bag on the left side of the handle bar of the cycle. My school books were pushed into another similar bag and it was hung on the right side of the handlebar. This was how my journey to school started. If there was an item of interest, it was the carrier. My mind would always be on the carrier instead of on the class subject and I would wait impatiently for the lunch time bell. The children of our village used to sit together and eat our lunch and most of the times we used to share our lunch. Our school used to be at the far end of the village amidst paddy fields.There used to be small canals (bodikalva) to irrigate the paddy fields. We would sit on the banks of these canals under a mango tree and eat lunch with a picnic atmosphere. After that we would wash our tiffin carrier in the canals, reassemble them and put it back in the cotton bag.

I was using this vintage brass lunch carrier for three years during my studies for 4th,5th forms and SSLC (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) which is equivalent to present day 10th. After my SSLC, I had gone to Kakinada to study my Intermediate in PR College. Thus, my cycle journey and my dear lunchbox carrier were given rest. While my cycle was disposed, I retained the brass lunch carrier, my companion for 3 years. It is now an integral part of my antiques collection. This fabulous 5-tier tiffin box is my goddess Annapoorna which fed me for three years in my life.

I do hope you enjoyed reading this posting on Vintage Tiffin Carrier as much as I did writing it. I love to receive your comments.

UPDATE – Jun 28, 2017

Take a look at the video that we’ve recently uploaded. Hope you like it.

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Vintage Burma Teak Wood Trunk Box

Vintage Burma Teak Wood Trunk Box
Vintage Burma Teak Wood Trunk Box

 

The sturdy handsome teak wooden box you see here is made in Burma and shipped to India by the workers at Burma of Indian origin. This enchanting box is made of pure Burma teak wood, famous for its durability,strength and water resistance.The box is known as ‘trunk box’ since it is made out of the timber planks cut out of the trunk of the Burma teak wood tree. The best quality of wood comes from the trunk and wide planks of wood are required to make a large box which can be obtained from the wide trunk only. The main characteristics of a wooden trunk box are:

  • There should not be any joints in the wooden planks
  • It should be a single piece in all six sides of the box

You will observe that this box is made out of solid wood without any joints in the wooden boards.

 

Vintage Burma Teak Wood Trunk Box-top view
Vintage Burma Teak Wood Trunk Box-top view

 

Side view of the box showing the joints of two sides, iron handle
Side view of the box showing the joints of two sides, iron handle

 

Close up of the joints of the box- wooden planks perfectly cut and fitted
close up of the joints of the box- wooden planks perfectly cut and fitted

 

The Design of the Box

The box is designed to keep valuable items like gold and silver items, silk garments and any items that need safety and protection. There is a special compartment with a lid inside the box to hold important documents.

The box is sitting on a 3 inch high solid base frame. This base frame takes the load of the box and reinforces its structure.The lid has a 3 inch high inverted tray structure joined to the main box with rotary brass hinges. There is a beautiful brass latch fixed to the top lid that fits snugly into a ring fixed to the main box which can be locked with a padlock. There is an in-built locking system also but I have misplaced the key.

The wooden boards on four sides are skilfully joined with neat symmetrical inter locking design to form the box. This shows the skill of the carpenter who made this box. There are no adhesive used to strengthen the joints. The strength of the joints is achieved by perfect cutting of the joint grooves and tight fitting of the inter locking of the wooden grooves. It should be noted with admiration that no adhesive is used in the joints for tight fitting.It is purework of precision cutting and fitting.

 

Box sitting on a 3 inch strong wooden base
Box sitting on a 3 inch strong wooden base

 

Box in open condition showing the storage space and the left side document compartment
Box in open condition showing the storage space and the left side document compartment

 

Box showing key hole of the inbuilt lock, latch and ring for pad lock
Box showing key hole of the inbuilt lock, latch and ring for pad lock

 

The Story of the Box

The story of the box is enveloped with the feeling of gratitude of a family for a village head. The story starts in a village named Vanapalli in the Konaseema area in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India during the World War II. Many workers from this village went to Burma (the present day Myanmar) for work including a group of carpenters. In those days, telephones were not available in the villages and the only way of communication with the Burma workers and their families in India was by postal letters. Most of the families in India were illiterates and they did not know how to reply when a letter came from Burma.

My father-in-law’s father, Sri Machiraju Pullam Raju, was a Karanam (government representative) for Vanapalli village. In those days, karan was the virtual head of the village and the villagers used to approach the Karanam for any help they wanted.The families of Burma settlers were coming to Pullam Raju garu (garu is a Telugu word used to express respect) whenever they got a letter from Burma so that he can read the letter to them and exchange family welfare.He was also helping them in writing letters in reply. The families also took his advice on various issues in their families. Thus, Pullam Raju garu became a main link for the families to exchange information between Burma and India.

When the Second World War was declared, India was under British rule at that time. The Indian British troops were moved to Burma to fighting against Japanese army who had created a base there to fight against the Western forces. There was lot of commotion in the village Vanapallias they heard from the newspapers that Burma was bombed. The families were worried about their men at Burma and the frequent letters of exchange made Pullam Raju garu closer to the villagers. During war time,around 1940 some of the workers returned back to India and among them were some carpenters. The workers that returned from Burma were visiting Pullam Raju garu with their families to show their gratitude for the service rendered by him. They gave him some gifts that they brought from Burma. Few carpenters brought him foldable easy chairs. Seven carpenters brought him Burma teak wood trunk boxes; one each in different sizes. The one shown here is one out of them. This box is around 72 years old.

Pallam Raju garu had five children, two boys and three girls. The eldest son,Sri Machraju Bhaskar Rao was married to my aunt (Father’s sister)Machiraju Satyavathi. Subsequently, I married their daughter and he became my father-in-law. Pullam Raju garu gifted one box to each of his children. The remaining 2 boxes he has given to his friends. My father-in-law’s box was kept in our ancestral house in Someswaram since he was moving to Madras (present day Chennai) for his job and he did not have much space in his Chennai rented house to accommodate this trunk box. This box was being used by my mother who used to keep her valuable possessions in this box, including her wedding Banaras sari, my father’s Salem silk pancah and kanduva, her gold jewels, silver items like dinner plates, glasses, bowls, gandhapuginni (sandal wood paste bowl), rose water sprinkler and many more interesting items.

I and my sisters would flock around the box whenever my mother opened it to peep into various items that were stored in it. There used to be a small lakkabharani( lacquer box) in red colour in which my mother used to keep small items like gold rings, ear drops, locket with Anjaneya emblem and few silver coins. Sometimes my mother used to allow us to touch and feel them till our curiosity was satiated. Then she would put them back into lacquer box .The lacquer box goes back into the trunk box and is locked. My mother would then tie the key of the lock to the corner end piece of her sari.

My father-in-law never claimed the box. As an engineer, he used to get frequent transfers in his job and this heavy box was an inconvenience. The box has made our house its permanent home. My mother stayed in our ancestral house in Someswaram till the death of my grandfather in 1970 and thereafter she was living with us at Chennai. When she came to Chennai she brought with her the Burma teak wood box also along with her baggage.  Since then this vintage box is with me as a symbol of the noblest feeling called gratitude.

 

Young Teak would tree with flowers
Young Teak would tree with flowers

 

Teak wood logs– trunk side view
Teak wood logs– trunk side view

 

About teak wood and teak wood tree

Teak wood can be crowned as the strongest and most durable wood in the world. Teak wood has highest oil content and hence this wood has the power of rot resistance and protection from the infestation by the insects.It is the ideal wood for making boats since it is water resistant.It is widely used for making outdoor furniture for it can withstand any kind of weather.

The wood name “teak” is derived from Tamil word Thekku. The botanical family name is Verbenaceae and belongs to the sub-category of Tectona. The teak wood tree can grow up to 150 feet high and can live for 100 years. It is native to Asea and mainly grown in plantations in  countries like India, Burma, Indonesia, Thailand and also Philippine islands. The fragrant white colored flowers of the tree bloom in clusters and bear fruits  by insect pollination. The seeds of the fruit are used for plantation. The tree has big leaves with hairy structure underneath the leaf.

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Antique Elephant Incense Stick Holder

Antique elephant incense stick holder.
Antique elephant incense stick holder

 

This beautiful incense stick holder in the form of an elephant is a unique antique art piece. The elephant stands on its two hind legs and the other front legs are taken up and joined together resembling a prayer posture. Its body is slightly bent forward to reveal a humble gesture. Its trunk is taken up and is resting on the head mimicking trumpeting a prayer. The mouth is wide open and the years are spread indicating a careful hearing of something important. There are holes on the trunk and incense sticks are stuck into these holes. The elephant is designed to hold the incense sticks from its lifted trunk. It gives a pious feeling that it is offering dhoop (perfumed smoke) to a divine being in a traditional prayer. The eyes are half closed and sublime like in a prayer.

Antique elephant incense stick holder-with burning sticks and curls of smoke
Antique elephant incense stick holder-with burning sticks and curls of smoke

 

This elephant is made with highly polished shining porcelain with smooth finish. It has a beautiful golden colour. The ears are lined with red colour border. The opened mouth also has red colour. The eyes are in black colour. The elephant is standing on a   lovely blue colour base.

Measurements: The height of the elephant is 6 inches and the base diameter 2.2 inches wide.

The elephant is hollow. When the incense sticks are kept inside the holes located on the trunk of the elephant it may fall down due to the imbalance created by the lengthy incense sticks on one side of the elephant. To make it solid and stable the hollow inside of the elephant is filled with the sand. There is a hole under the base of the elephant through which the sand is filled and the hole is plugged with a cork to seal the spilling of the sand. The sand also helps to hold tight the incense sticks.

 

Antique elephant showing wide ears with red colour lining and base in blue colour
Antique elephant showing wide ears with red color lining and base in blue color

 

Antique elephant showing holes in the trunk for keeping incense stick
Antique elephant showing holes in the trunk for keeping incense stick

 

Eelephant standing on the back legs, front legs joined together in prayer posture
Eelephant standing on the back legs, front legs joined together in prayer posture

 

This magnificent incense stick holder is purchased by my grandfather. He is a follower of Lord Shiva and he used to do pooja to the framed picture of Shiva seated on his mount Nandi with his family of wife Parvathi  and children Ganesha and Kumaraswamy ever evening. He used to decorate the picture with Kanakambaram flowers, followed by inserting the smoking agarabathis into the trunk of this elephant. Then he would dance singing the songs in praise of Shiva to the rhythm of his Pandarichidathalu (a hand held pair of wooden blocks attached with cymbals)

He used the elephant incense stick holder daily for nearly 55 years but still it appears  new with the golden color still shining bright. After the demise of my grandfather we never used it on a daily basis for the fear of losing it and hence used to keep it is a cupboard in a locked condition. Occasionally we used to take it out for special poojas or for festivals. Now it is in my antique collection under rare and valuable category. We always admire its sublime and   fluid beauty.

Apart from its functional use, the elephant incense stick would make a wonderful accent piece in our grandfather’s room. It looks as though the elephant is enjoying the curling tendrils released by incense stick smoke.The fragrance from the incense smoke acts in two ways. When used in the Hindu ritual pooja, it adds to the mystic and spiritual ambiance. In other times, it relaxes the nerves and calms down the mind. The curls of smoke arising from the red tip of the incense stick take you to the fantasy world.The incense sticks come in various aromas and fragrances like rose, jasmine, lavender, sandalwood and many others.

 

Close up of the elephant trunk, tuskers, years, open mouth and joined hands
Close up of the elephant trunk, tuskers, years, open mouth and joined hands

 

Hole in the base to put sand for stability
Hole in the base to put sand for stability

 

Elephant with incense sticks
Elephant with incense sticks

 

Elephant holding burning incense sticks
Elephant holding burning incense sticks

 

Rear view of the elephant holding incense sticks with curling smoke
Rear view of the elephant holding incense sticks with curling smoke

 

My grandfather, Sri Yenugu Krishna Murthy, purchased this wonderful elephant incense stick holder in the year 1913. Now it is nearly 100 years old. We used to get street vendors in our village Someswaram in the east Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh state, India. Those were the days of British rule. The lady street vendors used to bring imported items of interest and my grandfather is their regular customer. Any interesting item they have, they used to first bring it to my grandfather. He purchased this rare item also from such vendors. Though there is no stamp of manufacturing country on this, I believe this is manufactured in Japan. The Buddhist temples of Japan use incense sticks as a part of their ritual prayer. Elephant has a great significance in Buddhism and elephant is associated with the birth of Buddha.

 

The story of Buddha and The Elephant

Around 4th century BC king Suddhodana ruled a Himalayan kingdom with the capital city of Kapilavasthu. His wife and the queen’s name is Maya. They did not have children and they performed many prayers and rituals for children. One night Queen Maya got a very vivid dream in whichshe was carried by four angels to the snowy peaks of Himalayas and dressed her with flowers. A splendid white bull elephant holding a White lotus in in her trunk advanced towards Maya and circled around her three times. The elephant then entered into her body from her right side and disappeared into her. The next day morning she narrated her dream to her husband. The King Suddhodana invited 64 scholars and asked them to interpret Queen Maya’s dream. They came out with the significance of the dream and told the king that soon queen Maya will become pregnant and give birth to a boy. The boy if he confines himself to the palace he would be a great warrior and conquers the world. If he comes out of the palace compound he will become a great enlightened man and become a Buddha.

When it was time to deliver, queen Maya proceeds to her mother’s place Devadaha for delivery on a palanquin accompanied by 1,000 courtiers. The royal procession had to pass through Lumbini grove which is full of flowering trees. The enchanted queen ordered the procession to stop to touch and feel the flowers. As she lifted her hand to reach the flowering branch, she delivered the boy. The queen and the boy went back to Kapilavastthu and the queen Maya died after 7 days. The boy named Sidhartha was raised by his mother’s sister Pajapati who is also the second wife of king Suddhodana. At one point of time Sidhartha comes out of the palace compound and becomes the Buddha ,the founder of the great religion Buddhism. Thus the story of the birth of  Buddha has mysterious connection with  elephant and the elephant is symbolized as Buddha. There is no wonder this symbolism triggered the imagination of many artists who made many products with elephant motifs  used in the temples of Buddhism  including the one shown in this article ,the incense stick holder.

 

 

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Antique Brass Milk Pot

 

Antique brass milk pot

When my mother came to my father’s house for the first time in the year 1936 after her marriage, her father gifted her few items for her comfort at the new home including a cow and a brass milk pot known as paala tappela into which the milk is squeezed from the cow.  This brass milk pot is 77 years old.

My mother along with their parents came to her husband’s house for the first time in a decked up double bullock cart with all her belongings and the cow following the bullock cart. The care taker of the cow also accompanied the caravan.The list of other gift items are saris,cloths,gold and silver ornaments,brass and copper cooking and otherutensils, sweets,snacks, fruits, flowers and the most important mandatory items – pasupu, kumkuma and chanividi(a kind of sweet made with rice flour and sugar). My mother belongs to a village called Korumilli located on the banks of river Godavari, in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Her father’s name is Salapaka Lingamurthy. My Father belongs to village Someswaram named after the presiding deity of the village Someswara Swami with a magnificent temple.

The care taker of the cow, whom we call paaleru, that came from Korumilli village used to take care of the cow and milk the cow into the brass milking pot. After few days he handed over the duties of the cow to a care taker appointed by my father and left our house. Then the new paaleru took care of the cow including milking daily in the morning, feeding the cow regularly and cleaning the cow.His responsibilities include taking care of the paala tappela. The paala tappela is meant to be used only for milking the cow and after that the milk is transferred to another brass vessel for boiling the milk and further usage. Once the milk is transferred, the milking pot is cleaned thoroughly by rubbing with tamarind juice first followed by fine soil with coconut fibre. Then the paala tappela is dried and stored in its usual storage area and used to be removed only the next day morning for milking the cow. The milking is done in the evening also.

Antique brass milk pot-Front view

 

Antique brass milk pot- Angle view

 

Antique brass milk pot- another angle view

 

Antique brass milk pot- top view

 

Antique brass milk pot- inclined position front and bottom view

 

The height of the antique milk pot is 7 inches, the diameter at the belly is 7.5 inches and the diameter at the mouth opening is 5 inches.

For any reason if the paaleru was absent, my mother used to milk the cow.There are two reasons for my mother to take charge of the milking, firstly, the cow is comfortable with my mother since she knows her from a long time and allow her to squeeze the milk. Secondly, nobody in the house has the required skills to handle a cow, and even if they venture for milking the cow, the cow is reluctant to allow them to touch her. After some time the cow became pregnant and after due course of time gave birth to a calf. Now the cow’s milk has to be shared between us and the calf. First in the morning the calf is to be let loose and the calf will run to the mother and have the first course of her milk. After few minutes the calf would be pulled out from the udder of the cow and our milk man would squeeze the milk but would take care that enough milk is left un-squeezed so that the calf has her full quota of the milk.

Antique brass milk pot-inclined position side view

 

Antique brass milk pot-inclined position bottom view

 

Antique brass milk pot-upside down position view

 

Picture showing milking the cow into a pot

The milk that the cow gives till 7 days of her delivery of the calf is entirely different .They are thick and creamy. We use to call them Junnu Paalu. My mother used to cook a sweet from the junnupaalu called Junnu .It is cooked with Junnupaalu, jaggery and black pepper. Its taste is divine.

Generally cows produce milk when they deliver the calf and will continue to give milk till they are dried-off. The cow normally is in DRY condition after 305 days of continuous lactation. This dry season lasts till the cow is with the next calf. Cow has a gestation period of 280 days almost similar to a human gestation time.During the dry season  it will not give milk.Once our cow declared that it will not give milk.So we were without milk.This information has gone to my mother’s father and he has sent another milking cow and the dried up cow was sent back to Korumilli.This rotation of cows kept us with continuous milk supply.My mother’s father used to have lot of cows and in the group there will always be few milk giving cows or lactation cows .My maternal grandfather has no problem in sending a milk yielding cow but I came to know later that he used to have problem with the cows that returned from our house.

My grandfather was a landlord and he also had farms. He also used to have a mini dairy. His paaleru used to take all the cows to the banks river Godavari for grazing the pastures. Godavari river flows in such a way that it forms mini islands in between its streams.There will be lot of green grass on these islands and the cattle have to cross the rivulets to reach the island.The rest of the cattle used to cross the waters easily but the cows returned from our house would be scared to cross the water.The reason being the cows in our house are kept in the house only and they never gone out into the fields and rivers. They were fed with cut grass and they forgot how to graze in the open meadows.

This rotation of cows between the two houses of my father and grandfather stopped somewhere for some unknown reason and our family was buying milk from milk vendors. With the result our beautiful brass paala tappela was not used and given permanent rest. Finally it joined my antique collection and occupies a regal place in our collection as well as in our hearts. Now both my mother and my maternal grandfather passed away long back, but their images and memories flood my thoughts whenever I see this Paala tappela that gave a glorious service to our family.

Milking a cow is an art .First you should establish a friendly rapport with the cow. If you approach her with negative vibes it will sense and will not cooperate with you. If you have a friendly approach she will cooperate and allow you to milk her. You have to sit in a correct posture near the cow with a convenient proximity to the udder and the teats. Youhave to sit on your feet with the knees folded. The paala tappela is kept in between the folded knees and milking is done with both the hands. The paala tappela should be positioned directly under the udder of the cow and the teats are to be squeezed so that the milk directly falls into the paala tappela. This is the traditional and professional way of milking the cow. Now a days people sit on a stool and keep the Paala tappela on the ground under the cows podugu(udder)and milk the cow. However the cow will enjoy giving the milk to a seasoned milk man by his rhythmic squeezing movements. Whereas, it will not enjoy the clumsy movements of a nervous new comer.

The job of paaleru is also to take care of the daily discharge of the cow dung.He used to make pidakalu out of the cow dung. Pidakalu are the dung made to the shape of a round disk and dried in the sun. These cow dung pidakalu are used as a fuel to boil water or milk. For Sankranthi festival as children we used to make small pidakalu called bogi pidakalu in the shape of wadas and we used to make a garland of the Bhogi pidakalu and put them in the Bhogimanta, the ceremonial fire lit in the early morning of Bhogi pandaga that falls one day before the Sankranthi. After dropping the bhogi pidakalu garland in the fire me, my sisters along with children used to sit around the fire and warm ourselves against the January winter cold .The Sankranthi festival generally falls on 13th,14th and 15th  of January.

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Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler

Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler
Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler

The primitive man drank his water from the flowing rivers and water tanks by cupping his hands to form a tumbler to drink. Later, he started using leaves by rolling them like a tumbler. Subsequently, with the invention of the cutting tool, he started using the hollow bamboo cut to size to form a tumbler. With progress of civilization, he started making earthen pots to store water and small pots to drink water. With the invention of metals like copper and brass, he started making tumblers with these metals to drink and carry water. Next, with the invention of glass blowing technique, man started making different varieties of tumblers with glass material not only for drinking water but also for the purpose of drinking wine, fruit juices, milk and other liquid foods.

The civilized man invented a special variety of glass for decorative and aesthetic appeal and one such variety of glass is known as milk glass. I am fortunate enough to collect one drinking tumbler made out of milk glass. I am happy to introduce this beautiful vintage milk glass tumbler to you and I hope you will admire its bewitching beauty as much as I do.

Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler- Front view
Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler- Front view

 

Measurements – Height – 6 inches. Rim diameter – 3 inches. Bottom diameter – 2 inches

 

Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler- Angle view
Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler- Angle view

 

Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler – Top view

 

This picture is milk in glass tumbler-resembles vintage milk glass tumbler

 

The Story of the Milk-glass Tumbler

This beautiful milk glass tumbler was purchased by my father in the year 1930. Yanam is a French colony which is around 40 kilometers from our village Someswaram in East Godavari district of present Andhra Pradesh. The rest of Andhra Pradesh used to be under British rule. In order to expand their business, the French people in India used to import lot of goods into Yanam and sell them in the rest of the British India. Many women street vendors used to smuggle interesting items into nearby villages in cane baskets carrying them on their head. Such street vendors used to come to our village also and my father purchased this French made milk glass tumbler from such vendors. In those days, there were no shopping malls to purchase the items you want. You had to purchase items that are available to you. Otherwise you had to buy the similar British goods from the shops in cities like Madras (present Chennai), Bombay (Present Mumbai) or from Calcutta (present Kolkata) or Delhi.

This precious milk glass tumbler used to be kept is a locked cup board in our house. Whenever important guests came home, we used to take out the glass from the cupboard and serve cool water in this glass. We also had coconut trees in our house. In summer, we used to drink tender coconut water from this glass which used to be a very pleasant experience. It used to be a wonder in our village to have glass like this. When our family shifted from our village owing to the job I took up, this particular glass was carried by my mother in her suitcase along with her clothes for safe transportation. Subsequently, I have shifted into around 50 houses on my various assignments, and every time my mother used to take charge of this delicate glass for safe transportation to our new locations. Finally, we settled in Hyderabad since the last 15 years and now this glass is the part of my collection at Hyderabad.

This charming vintage milk glass tumbler is 5 inches tall,3 inches in diameter at the rim and 2 inches in diameter at the bottom.

We have another important event connected to Yanam. My mother and father got married in Yanam. In those days, it was a tradition and social norm to marry the girls before they attained puberty. The average age for a girl to attain puberty is around 13 years and they had to be married before turning 13. But this was against the law in those days. In British India, there used to be a law called “Sarada Act” which stated that girls should be married only after they attain the age of 18 years. Getting the girls married before they turned 18 was punishable under the law. The “Sarada Act” was against the social custom and the parents of the girls used to escape this law by celebrating the girl’s marriage in Yanam which was under French law and British “Sarada Act” was not applicable there. My maternal grandfather, in his orthodox approach, celebrated my mother’s marriage before she turned 12 at Yanam.        

The HistoryOf Glass

Glass was known to Stone Age man as early as 9,000 years who made tools such as cutting tools and spear heads with natural glass. Archaeologists have found that since 3,500 BC in the Bronze Age, ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt were using man-made glass for coating stone beads for decorative purpose. The first hollow glass resembling a tumbler was made in 1500 BC by covering a layer of molten glass on a sand base model.

The major breakthrough happened in glass making with the invention of glass blowing around 1st century BC in Babylon. Glass manufacturing and usage has taken interesting strides throughout human civilization, particularly influenced by cultures of China, Africa and Europe.

How natural glass is formed?

Natural glass is formed when natural events that produce super high degree of temperature melt certain kinds of rocks to form a sheet of liquid glass.When the liquid glass is cooled down, a hard sheet of glass is formed. During volcanic eruption when hot lava (liquid rock) is flown into cool water beds like tanks or rivers, a shiny black natural glass is formed. Similarly, when lightning strikes on earth or a meteorite collides with earth, super high temperatures are generated due to high impact. Such high temperatures melt certain varieties of rocks that produce natural glass.

Characteristics of Glass

Glass material is inorganic and solid in nature, clear or translucent.It is brittle and can withstand sun, rain and wind. Glass is utilized for making utensils, windows, bottles and mirrors and other kinds of items.

Discovery of Man-made Glass

Man has discovered a strange stone which we call now as glass in the ashes of a fire thousands of years before. This might have happened by accident. The Roman historian Pliny wrote in A.D. 77 that Phoenician sailors placed “stones of soda ash” into a fire (presumably to rest their posts on) on a sandy beach. They later found a “hard smooth stone” in the ashes. That’s one possible scenario, given that sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate), and heat are all ingredients for making glass. 

 

Vintage Milk Glass Tumbler – Upside down view

 

What is milk glass?

Milk glass got its name from its milky white color.Milk glass is a translucent or opaque glass with milky color that can be pressed or blown into a variety of shapes. These varieties include decorative lamps, drinking glasses, dinnerware, costume jewelry and vases .The articles made with milk glass are known for their beauty and grace in design. Milk glass items were first made in the 16th century in Venice .These can also be made in colors like yellow, blue, brown, black and pink. Out of all these colors, the white milky color is the most popular. The milk glass is originally called “opal glass” because it is opaque in nature. In the later years, it came to be called as milk glass basing on its white milky color. To get this beautiful opaque milky white color, opacifiers like bone ash or tin dioxide are added to the regular glass. These milk glass items make a wonderful collection items.World over, the lovers of milk glass collect original antiques or replicas of popular collectable items.

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Antique Brass Ghee Storage Pots

 

Ghee is known to Indians since 6,500 BC. This was revealed through the traces of ghee found from the excavated pots belonging to that period. Ghee was used by ancient Indians for the ritual fire sacrifices called Homam. Ghee is truly an Indian invention and mainly used in India. It has spread to the neighboring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The origin of the word ghee is from Sanskrit word ghrta. It is called ghee in Hindi, Gujarati and Bengali, ghio in Punjabi, tuppa in Kannada, neyy in Malayalam, ney in Tamil and  neyyi  in Telugu.

Ghee was stored in earthen pots in the early years and its shelf life was up to nine months. Later, with invention of metals like copper and brass, Indians started preserving ghee in copper and brass pots. I have collected two antique brass ghee storage pots with beautiful shape and I’m happy to share pictures of these vintage pots and the story of how I acquired them through this article.

Ghee Pot with Lid in Round Shape

Round shaped brass ghee pot with lid and lifted handle

 

Round shaped brass ghee pot lid and the pot shown separately

 

Round shaped brass ghee pot – Top view

 

Round shaped brass ghee pot and brass plate with hole riveted to the ghee pot

 

Round shaped brass ghee pot showing the tin coating inside the pot

 

This ghee pot has a handsome round shape resembling the famous Indian lota. The pot is handmade with brass with a lid that perfectly fits the pot preventing any leaking. It has a handle made out of thin brass rod. There are two handmade brass plates riveted with copper rivets to the two sides of the ghee pot with a hole to which the handle is hooked. The handle is flexible. It rests on the belly of the pot when not in use and becomes straight when it is lifted with hand or when it is hung from the hook. Brass metal is conducive for some chemical reaction when it interacts with certain materials. To prevent such reactions, the brass containers are coated inside with a thin layer of tin metal, also known as tagarampoota. This brass ghee pot also coated inside with tin metal.

Ghee Pot with Cylindrical Shape

Barrel shaped brass ghee pot with lid and handle

 

Barrel shaped brass ghee pot with lifted handle

 

Barrel shaped brass ghee pot with lid and pot shown separately

 

Barrel shaped brass ghee pot – Top view

 

Heart shaped brass plate riveted to the body of the ghee pot

 

Barrel shaped brass ghee pot with tin coating on the inside

 

This ghee pot has a cylindrical or a barrel shape with a lid on the top. The entire ghee pot is handmade complete with the lid and handle. The cylindrical ghee pot has two heart shaped brass plates that have been riveted to the two sides at the top of the pot. These heart shaped brass plates have holes that are used to hook the brass handle. The handle is made by bending a thin bass rod. The side brass plates serve the purpose of hooking the handle and also for strengthening the body of the ghee pot. The brass ghee pot is lined with tin metal to prevent any possible chemical reaction of ghee with the brass metal.

In our ancestral house at our village Someswaram in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, we used to have a place within the house called “Palagoodu” meaning a dairy cupboard fixed into the wall in which all items related to milk and milk products are stored such as milk, curds, ghee, butter, butter milk, and also oils for cooking. This palagoodu is generally fixed to the wall in such a height that children cannot reach the opening. The cupboard has two doors and when closed they are held tight by a handmade wooden latch. In my childhood days, I used to see these ghee storage pots in palagoodu. These two ghee pots are the storage pots and are specifically used for transferring a small amount of ghee to a small bowl which is then served with a spoon. The lid is always kept very tight to prevent red ants from attacking the ghee.

My mother inherited these pots from her mother-in-law and we do not know the actual person who has purchased these. But they must be more than 100 years old. There are minute dents on the body of the pots due to constant use and antiquity. There are beautiful patina marks on these ghee storage pots.

Ghee and Indian Culture

Indian culture and ghee are intricately woven into the life cycle of Indian Hindu. Here are a few examples:

  • Immediately after the birth of the child, the father puts a drop of ghee  on the lips of the baby with a  golden ring even before cutting the umbilical cord.
  • During cremation of dead bodies, Hindus pour ghee over the dead bodies after placing them on pyre.
  • In traditional Hindu prayer, known as pooja, a lighted lamp or diya with the cotton wick soaked in cow ghee is placed in front of the God.
  • In harati ,the ritual of showing the lighted lamp  to the images of deities in circular motion, cotton wicks soaked in ghee are used  for the lamp.
  • During Diwali, the festival of lights, Goddess Lakshmi is invited into the house with the row of ghee lamps. On the day of Ksheerabdi Dwadasi, also known as Tulasi pooja (the day of celebration of Tulasi marriage with Lord Vishnu), the surroundings of Tulasi plant are decorated with ghee lamps.

 

Fire sacrifices called Homam have been performed way back since 5,000 years in which ghee was used. Homam is the vedic ritual of offerings to Gods through the medium of Agni (fire) in which ghee, rice, herbs and other ingredients are offered called poornahuti. In one form of Hindu worship called Pachamrutaabhishekam, the deity is bathed in a sacred mixture called Panchamrutam consisting of ghee, mishri (kalakanda), honey, milk and dahi (curd). Rice balls mixed invariably with ghee and dal (lentils) are offered to the deceased in an annual offering ceremony called shradh .

In the 5,000 year old traditional medical system native to India called Ayurveda, ghee is profusely used. Ayurveda is made up of Sankrit words – Ayus and Veda. Ayus is longevity and veda is science. Hence the word Ayurveda means the science of health and longevity.  Ayurveda considers pure ghee as a supreme food. It is considered as having immense medicinal benefits apart from being a high powered nutrient. Ghee aids in the rejuvenation for both young and old. It provides vitality, enhances fertility, improves mental function, provides good voice and brightens the complexion. Ghee is consumed by mixing it with the food which enhances the taste and flavor of the food. Ghee is so nice it can be eaten as it is.

Ghee as the Life Giver – Mahabharata and Kauravas

The great Indian epic Mahabharata gives credit to ghee for the birth and life of Kauravas. This story tells us that ghee has the power of giving life. Once, the great sage Vyasa Maharshi visited the palace of Gandhari and Drutharashtra. The royal couple welcomed them and Gandhari served him nice food with which Vyasa Maharshi was very pleased. He asked Gandhari to ask a boon and Gandhari wanted 100 sons with King Drutharashtra.Vyasa granted the boon. Soon Gandhari became pregnant but could not deliver even after 2 years. Meanwhile, Kunthi, Pandu’s wife gave birth to the first of Pandavas. Getting impatient and angry with herself, Gandhari struck her womb  which resulted in a miscarriage and a mass of flesh fell out.  Vyasa Maharishi came to know about the miscarriage and ordered Gandhari to cut the lump of flesh into 101 pieces and store each piece in a separate pot filled with ghee and close the pot for 2 years and hide them. Then Vyasa Maharishi went to Himalayas. After two years, 100 boys and one girl  broke open the pots and came out. That is how 100 Kauravas were born. The eldest being Duryodhana followed by Dussasana. The name of girl is Dusalla. Thus, Vyasa Maharishi had mentioned some 5,000 years ago that ghee has the power of giving life.

Ghee and Origin of Life

Ghee is considered as a sacred food because it is provided by cow which is considered as the most sacred animal. The origin of ghee is attributed to the Hindu vedic God Prajapathi, the Lord of creatures. He is said to have created ghee by rubbing his hands or by churning the hands together to produce ghee and pouring the same into the fire to create his descendants and all living creatures. The vedic ritual of pouring ghee into the fire is virtually the re-enactment of creation as done by Prajapathi.  Butter is a symbol of semen, churning with hands represents the sexual act, the ghee represents formation of foetus in the mother’s womb. Thus, ghee is a life giver.

Ghee and Indian Food

My paternal grandfather, Yenugu Krishnamurthy garu, is a great connoisseur of ghee. His lunch consisted of rice, dal, vegetables, pulusu, rasam, two varieties of chutneys, one fresh lime, one pot full of curds and one bowl full of ghee. First, he would start with a small dose of rice drenched with warm ghee thus greasing the passage of the food that follows. Then he would  mix each  item with rice, pour ghee over the mixture and consume. The only exception is  curd rice with which he will mix  lime juice. By the time he would finish his food the bowl full of ghee will be empty. He lived a full life of 90 years and died one day peacefully after having his lunch with his favorite bowl full of ghee. I am inclined to think that the secret of his healthy life with full gusto till 90 years is the pure homemade ghee. He had no fat in his body or any problem of cholesterol.

Now a days we see people talk about avoiding consumption of ghee since they fear putting on fat or higher levels of cholesterol. My grandfather’s example adequately supports the theory that ghee in fact helps reduce the fat and the cholesterol and Ayurveda support this theory.

Ghee Preparation at Home

Ghee is derived from butter. Butter contains fat and milk solids. When butter is melted and simmered at low temperature, the water gets evaporated, milk solidifies and the fat gets separated. When the milk solids are filtered, pure golden colored butter fat is available which we call ghee. Ghee is luscious butter fat and an intense power food with butter flavor. Ghee has a nutty taste, with excellent aroma and marvelous mouth feel.

  • Melt the butter in a thick bottomed saucepan on a low heat.
  • Slowly increase the flame so that the butter boils.
  • First you will observe lot of white foam floating around and gives way to bubbles.
  • You will hear the sound of bubbles forming and breaking continuously. This happens due to the evaporation of water from the butter. You will reach this stage around 12 -15 minutes from the start.
  • Then you will see the brown particles start forming and are distinctly seen in the boiling butter. These are the milk solids that got separated from butter.
  • Keep boiling the butter for another 8 minutes.
  • You will see the brown particles become dark brown and settle in the bottom of the pan. At the same time you will see golden color ghee with the beautiful aroma.
  • We normally test the ghee for the right cooking by splashing few drops of water in the boiling ghee from a distance. If you hear a loud splintering sound, the ghee is well cooked. If you here a mild sound, the ghee is not well cooked. But this test has to be done carefully.
  • Your ghee is done. Put off the fire and let the ghee cool down.
  • Strain the ghee to separate the dark brown milk solids.

Your pure homemade golden colored pure ghee is ready. Keep the ghee in dry bottles with tight screw lid. Preserve the ghee in room temperature only. It will form into a nice grainy liquid. It will not get spoiled for at least six months. There is no need to refrigerate the home made ghee.

Difference between Ghee and Clarified Butter

If we have to explain ghee in English, we use the word clarified butter. In fact, there is a slight difference between ghee and clarified butter. By heating the butter, if the water in the butter is evaporated and the milk solids are separated from the butter, it is called clarified butter. In preparing ghee, the clarified butter is further simmered and boiled till the milk solids are caramelized and convert into dark brown. The ghee acquires a deep golden color with a heady taste and beautiful aroma. The clarified butter cannot be stored for long time whereas ghee can be stored up to 9 months without refrigeration.

 

Round shaped brass ghee pot filled with pure homemade ghee

Popular Preparations with Pure Ghee

Indian sweets like Mysore pak from Karnataka, minapa sunni from Andhra Pradesh taste best when prepared with pure ghee. All those mouth-watering sweets from Gujarat and Rajasthan are mostly made with pure ghee. Boorelu, the special traditional sweet dish from Andhra Pradesh is eaten along with ghee by making a hole in the sweet and filling the hole with warm ghee. In Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, chapathi is roasted with pure ghee. If it is not roasted with ghee for any reason, it is smeared with ghee just before serving or eating. The famous Hyderabad biryani is made with pure ghee. In south India, rice mixed with vegetables, dal, or sambar is eaten mixed with ghee. The special variety of idlis known as  Guntur idlis are prepared by applying lot of ghee and are rolled in spicy dal powder.

You may also like to read the following related articles:

Antique Brass Boorela Mookudu – Frying Pan

Antique Brass Oil Lamps

Ganga Water Lota

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Antique Cloth Cradle Separator

 

Antique Cloth cradle separator

 

Ancient Indian civilization has passed on through generations to modern times a simple cradle made out of cloth in which the babies love to sleep. This cloth cradle is basically a cloth hammock created from a cotton cloth, from a simple cotton dhoti or a sari tied to a hook and hung from the ceiling to a provision made for this purpose. The baby relates the swinging movements of the cradle with the gentle swinging movements he experienced while he was in the cosy comfort of the mother’s womb corresponding to the mother’s movements. Any baby will be blissfully happy to sleeping in the cloth cradle.

 

Antique Cloth Cradle Seperator positioned in the cotton cradle

 

The only inconvenience in cotton hanging type cradle is putting the baby inside the cradle and taking the baby out of the cradle. This is because the cradle has no sufficient opening for placing and taking out the baby since both the sides of the cloth cradle hang down without any gap in-between them. The mother has to hold the baby in hands and create an opening using her elbows which is very inconvenient. To surmount this problem, some people use a cradle separator to create a wide gap in between the two sides so that the baby can be put in and put out of the cradle conveniently. I have collected a beautiful cradle separator with excellent design which I love to present it to you.

 

Antique Cloth cradle separator- middle part with knitted design

 

Antique Cloth cradle separator -left side part with a big hole and small hole

 

Antique Cloth cradle separator- right side part with a big hole

 

The design of the Antique Cradle Separator

I can never imagine that a mundane thing like a cradle separator can be so artistic.This only shows that art is an integral part of our daily life some time back and may be it is the reason our ancestors lived a holistic happy life compared to the present generation whose houses and utilities have mere functional value and do not have art or aesthetics value.

 The cradle separator is made with a single block of wood with beautiful design. Its length is 28 inches, width is 5 inches and depth is ¾ inches. The design of the separator appears to have three parts. The two end parts are circular in shape with triangular projections. These circular end pieces have the holes through which the cloth is passed through for making the cradle. The middle part of the separator has woven design forming 18 holes and the entire design is hand carved. The carvings are done in such a way that it looks as though it is woven with 3 strands of flexible wood. It looks very fluid .There is a small square hole at one end of the plank and this hole is meant for hanging this plank to a nail when not in use. The width of each strand is ¾ inch. This separator also is used to hang some colourful items for the entertainment of the baby using the 18 holes design.

 

Cotton Cradle hanging from the chain hooked to the ceiling

 

My experience with the Cotton Cradle

I was told that my mother kept me in a cotton hanging cradle when I was a baby in my maternal grandmother’s house at Korumilli located on the banks of river Godavari in east Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, where I was born. It is a tradition and a common practice to put the babies in a hanging cradle during my younger days. I, myself have seen the colourful cradles hanging in the halls of our neighbours and relatives houses who had babies. I have grown in a cradle culture. When my mother moved over to my Paternal grandfather’s house at Someswaram some 30 kilometres from Korumilli, my grandfather arranged a wooden cradle hung with 4 iron chains from the wooden beam of our house for my sleeping. I still have those lovely iron chains in my collection though we lost the cradle, I don’t know how. 

 

Baby sleeping in the cloth hanging cradle

 

Later, when I was going to school riding a bicycle I used to see the ladies who were working in the rice fields on either sides of the road used to have a cotton cradle of color full cloth and hang it to the branch of the nearby tree or to the beam of the cattle shed in which their babies are laid to sleep while they work in the rice fields. They would come periodically to the cradle, take out the baby, feed the baby with their breast milk and lay the baby back into the cosy cradle. I have never seen or heard of an accident happening by way of baby falling from a cotton cradle and it is absolutely safe. In fact there are chances of an accident happening when babies are kept on a flat wooden cradle or on a sleeping cot with cushions around falling down by accident. The best way to silence a crying baby is to put him in the cotton cradle and give it few mild rocking movements. I bet the baby will sleep in minutes provided the baby’s belly is full. A month’s old baby needs only two things, milk and the cosy comfort of a cotton hanging cradle.

 The cotton fabric cradle is called Battauyyala in Telugu. This is known as Tuniunjalin Tamil. It is known in the northern part of India as Palna, Dhooli, Jhoola and Dhola in Bengali.

 

Lady rocking the cradle to put baby into sleep

 

What is the secret of the survival of Cloth Cradle through generations?

 The secret is babies love to be rocked to sleep. The rocking movement is the extension of their cosy life they had in the mother’s womb and the cradle movements they enjoyed whenever the  mother walked around. They relate the rocking movements of the cradle with the movements they experienced while in the security and safety of the mother’s womb.  Thus the babies love the rhythm of the gentle movements of the cotton cloth cradle. Further when the baby is placed in the cloth cradle, the wait of the baby pulls the cloth around the baby creating a snug womb like atmosphere around him. Whenever the baby makes a movement, the cradle also swings inducing the baby back to sleep.

 Some people say that sleeping in a cotton cradle will promote the baby’s head to develop into a beautiful, rounded shape as he would not be sleeping on a flat mattress. It is hygienic too. When the baby passes the urine, it falls down from the thin cotton cloth and dries up fast keeping the baby dry. Generations of mothers over centuries felt good about the benefits of cotton hanging cradle and they passed on the simple technique to their next generations. Even now it is the most desirable way of putting the baby to sleep in several houses in towns and villages of India.

 

Lady placing the baby into the cradle- notice the space created by the separator

 

Precautions to be taken for Cotton Cradle 

The cloth cradles are very convenient to the mother, comfortable to the baby, easy to maintain, space saving and are economical provided some precautions are taken while using the same. The baby has to be positioned in the cradle with his back resting on the cradle. The baby should not be kept with the face down. Keep the bottom side of the cradle as low as possible towards the ground. Take enough precaution to ensure the baby does not turn to the sides or to the stomach. Watch the weight of the baby and ensure the quality of the cloth to be used taking into consideration the growing weight of the baby. Ensure that the cloth cradle is properly hooked so that there is no chance of it falling down.

 

Cradle separator separating the sides of the cloth hanging cradle

 

How I got this Antique Cradle Separator

I got this wonderful Antique Cradle Separator from an antique dealer in Chettinadu, a region in Tamil Nadu where the prosperous Chettiar community live. Basically they are business people particularly in banking and education sectors. They are called natukotaichettiars since they have houses as big as a fortress. They live a very traditional life with the art surrounding their magnificent houses including artistic household items like this beautifully carved cradle separator. I have purchased this in the year 1972 from Karaikudi city of Chettinadu. It is with me since 40 years. I wonder for how many cradles it was used as a separator and who are the babies that slept in those cotton hanging cradles and how many eminent personalities this cradle has rocked when they were babies.

 

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Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl

 

This is a beautiful brass bowl with a pedestal. Anything sacred is always kept on a pedestal. The statues of Gods, Goddesses, the sacred Kalasam are mounted on a pedestal because they are of ritualistic importance and should not be placed on the ground according to Hindu tradition. The Radukalu (divine sandals representing the feet of gods and goddesses) are always mounted on hollow Indian crown shaped pedestal called Satagopam also called Satagopuram .Likewise, sacred items that are to be offered to gods like flowers, fruits, chandanam (sandalwood paste) and other offering will also be kept in a bowl with a pedestal or a stand. I have collected this exquisitely crafted pedestal bowl that is used in temples for keeping flower and fruit offerings to the god. I have also seen such pedestal bowls are also used to keep Sankham (conch) that is used for doing Abhishekam (ritual water bath) to the deity.

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl – front view

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl – an angle view

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl-top view

 

Shape of Pedestal with round base, ring like grip holder and long cup

 

The Design of the Brass Pedestal Bowl:

 

This bowl sits on a five inch tall pedestal .The pedestal is in three sections. The base section is round with a diameter of 2.7 inches. The middle section of the pedestal is a ring like projection that serves as a grip holder. The top section has a long cup like design on which the bowl sits. The diameter of the bowl is eight inches. The bottom of the bowl is flat like a plate and the walls of the bowl rise from the plate with two steps. The entire bowl is intricately and wonderfully hand carved with immense aesthetic appeal giving a visual treat. There are 40 conical shaped projections all around the rim of the bowl which gives wavy design to the rim of the bowl. The bowl with the pedestal is made with high quality of brass and when it is polished it shines.

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl – bottom view

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl-upside down view

 

Antique Brass Pedestal Bowl- appreciate the intricate design inside the bowl

 

How I got this enchanting antique piece

I have acquired this superb bowl from an antique dealer in Chennai near Kapaleswara temple in Mylapore area in the year 1970. So it is with me since 43 years. I do not know since how long this piece was with the antique dealer and how long it was in use with the temple. There were thick patina marks on the bowl with pedestal and I have cleaned the major part. Still there are beautiful patina marks underneath the bowl which could not be cleaned. These patina marks are one indication of the antiquity of the bowl which is estimated around 100 years old.

Notice the nice patina marks under the bowl and inscription in Tamil

 

 

Admire the 40 conical shape projections all around the rim of the bowl