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Antique Brass Kindi: Lota With A Spout

 

 

 

 

Kindi is a type of Indian lota or chambu with a spout mostly used in kerala state, India, as a multipurpose vessel.It is used as a water dispenser for various pooja rituals and daily ablutions. Kindi like vessel with spout is also used in Andhra Pradesh and is called KommuChambu. Similar kindis are used in north India with a handle and is called kamandalam. The kindi is said to have existed since the dawn of the civilisation to store and carry water from place to place. The primitive kindi is made with clay and as the civilisation progressed, kindis are made with metals like brass, bronze, copper, silver and even gold and in various sizes. The smallest size one normally made either with silver or gold is used for ritual pooja and the larger ones generally made out of brass or bronze are used for daily ablutions.

I have collected 2 beautiful kindis as shown in the picture. The large kindi is made with brass and the small one with copper.

Brass kindi showing base, big belly, curved neck, wide mouth and a spout

 

 

The antique brass Kindi: This kindi has a wonderful shape with a bottom rim for support, a large bellyto hold water, a smoothly curved neck and a wide mouth on the top of the neck to receivethe water. There is a concave curved spout attached to the belly with a ring around the hole of the spout to protect the whole from accidental damage.The wide mouth has a sloping grip ring which is designed to carry the kindi with the five fingers. There is embossed ring around the base of the neck. There are parallel line designs around the large belly that arehandmade. The belly is filled up with water poured from the open mouth and water is dispensed through the hole of the spout. I have purchased this lovely kindi from RASI silk house, a reputed shop near Kapaleswara temple, Mylapore, Chennai, in the year 1994who used to sell rare antiques along with classical silk saris and dress material.

 

Copper kindi showing the base, small belly, straight neck, tapered mouth and the spout

 

The antique copper Kindi: This cute copper kindi has different design. It has a larger straight neck than the belly.The neck opening is flared at the top.There is a grip ring just below the flared neck opening. The  spout has a convex curve.There is an embossed ring joining the belly and the neck. This pretty copper kindi is gifted to me by my colleague from Kerala by name Subramani in the year 1984.I was told that his grandfather was using this kindi for pooja and abhishekam purpose.

The design of Kindi: The shape of the kindi is designed to minimise the wastage of water.The narrow spout opening will dispense water that is just required for the purpose like washing feet, hand and drinking without any spillage or loss. Its design is such that water will not get contaminated as the fingers will never touch the water when the kindi is used.

Brass kindi showing slip ring attached to the mouth and embossed ring joining belly and neck

 

The multiple uses of Kndi

VellaKindi:  VellaKindi is used for storing and drinking water. It is a common practice in traditional south Indian families few decades ago to keep a kindi filled with water at the entrance of the house on the first step. The traditional houses used to have in the front an elevated plat form on both sides of the steps leading to the entrance called Arugu in Telugu and Arukkanchatti in Malayalam. VellaKindi is placed on the first stepand the guest is expected to wash his feet, hands and face with the water from the kindi. Thereafter the guest would sit on the Arugu and drink the water from the protruding spout  of the same kindi. In certain communities like south Indian Brahmins, they practice a hygienic tradition called yengily in Telugu and Echai in Tamil in which the person while drinking water should not touch the vessel with his lips. If it touches the lips, the content of the vessel becomes impure for consumption by other person. Kindi is designed to beat this practice since the spout helps to take water from the vessel without touching the lips. Thus it is convenient to have multiple people have the water from the same kindi. Kindi is also used to clean the hands after taking the meals.

 

Copper kindi in inclined position

 

Copper kindi with top view

 

Pooja kindi: Pooja kindi is used for Hindu ceremonial prayer known as pooja. Kindi is a must in most of the communities in Kerala particularly in Namboodri and Nair communities. The kindi is used to perform abhishekam to idols by pouring water or milk on the deities through the spout of the kindi. The same kindi is used for giving theertam to devotees after the pooja. For achamanam ritual (drinking small quantities of water during pooja) people in the other regions use uddarini and panchapatram for using small quantity of water but kindi is used in place of Uddarini in kerala. Udharani is also used in the pooja ritual of Arghyam, and Sandhya. Uddarini is also used to distribute holy water as prasadam to devotees.

In Kerala, Kindi is an integral part of any religious ritual. It is a tradition in Nair families that the bride should bring one kindi along with the utensils she brings to her new family after the marriage. It is a traditional practice to gift the new bride with a set of seven vessels called Ezhupaatram comprising of the inevitable kindi, Kuthuvilakku (oil lamp), Thambalam, Kolambi(spittoon) and assorted plates in brass or bronze.

 

Brass kindi with rear side view notice the parallel line design on the belly

 

Brass kindi showing spout and spout hole

 

Brass kindi with top view- notice the wide mouth to pour in water and spout hole to dispense water out

 

The oil Kindi: Herbal oil is used during the Ayurvedic treatment for oil massages. Kindi is invariably used to pour the oil on the massaged body.The quantity of the oil required can be controlled by the movement of the wrist when pouring oil through the spout of the Kindi. Kindi is so convenient that the poring can be handled by one hand with precision while the second is used to spread the oil on the body.

Kindi for ceremonies: The Hindu marriage ceremony is actually called Kanyadanam, meaning gifting a virgin girl.The bride groom is considered as Maha Vishnu and the father of the bride gifts his daughter to the groom by washing his feet with water and giving a coconut to the groom as a symbol of giving his daughter.For washing the feet of the groom kindi is used as a tradition. In annual death ceremonies of the departed elders known as Shraddha, it is a tradition to use Kindi for washing the Brahmin’s feet that are considered as Devas and Pitrs.

The story of Sukracharya and kindi: There is a famous story in puranas depicting how Sukracharya, the guru of asuras, lost his eye due to blocking the hole of a kindi. Bali is a great asura king and he has conquered both the earth and the heavens and thrown Indra out from his kingdom of Devas. Indra prays to lord Vishnu to restore his kingdom. Lord Vishnu visits Bali in the form of a dwarf Brahmin called Vamana, asks for a boon of tripada (three feet lengh) of land and Bali grants the boon to Vishnu. It is a tradition that any boon granted should be accompanied with water as a witness to the granting. Sukracharya is against Bali granting boon to Vamana and hides himself in the hole of the spout of the Kindi to prevent water flowing out thus hampering the boon. Vamana takes a dharba grass and pierces the hole to dislodge Sukrachrya and in the process Sukracharya becomes blind in one eye. For complete story on Vamana and Bali and how Sukracharya lost his eye please read the article by clicking on the following link.

http://ykantiques.com/2013/08/antique-brass-and-copper-kamandalam.html

The evolution of Kindi: According to Vedic knowledge, the entire universe is the manifestation of panchabhuta in varying combinations dictated by cosmic laws. The panchabhuta, the five elements, are -earth, water, fire, air and ether. The panchabhuta are the basic elements that form the life force.Thus Hindus consider water as a basic life giving and sustaining force. Any element that is a life giving force should be pure and hence water is considered as pure and purifier.Water as a purifier has taken the vital role in all Hindu rituals and daily life. In India water is called Ganga devi elevating water to the divine status of goddess. Man from times immemorial has been creating vessels to carry the life giving water along with him to quench his thirst and to use for religious ceremonies. Starting from the earthen vessel, kindi has taken various forms of evolution and taken a central place in many of the houses few decades ago made out of Bell metal, brass, copper, silver and even gold.

Some attribute the origin of present Kindi to the cultural invasion by Arabs to the coast of Kerala in South India. They came to Kerala via sea route for trade and gradually settled in Kerala coast by marrying the locals.Now there exists a community called Mapalai literally meaning son-in-law who resemble Arabs and blended themselves into Malayali culture. It is a practice in Arab culture that they share food from common plate and drink water from a single jug. Indians use each separate plate for food coand separate vessel to drink water. One school of thought believes that it is Arabs who invented the Kindi. This vessel with a spout satisfied the cultural element of both societies in a way that water can be shared by all from the single vessel and at the same time the lips are not in contact with the water.

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Antique Brass And Bronze Curry Cooking Pots

Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a group
Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a group

 

The antique brass and bronze pots shown here are exclusively used for cooking Andhra Curries. In traditional Andhra meal there will be five items invariably  – Muddapappu, curry, chutney, pulusu, rasam and curds or butter milk with lots of accompaniments like pickles, powders, appadam, vadiyalu, ooramirapakayalu etc. Out of all Andhra meal items curry, known as koora takes an important position. It is the main dish. So the success of the meal depends on the success of the curry. Hence dedicated vessels are used to prepare this important dish. I have collected four curry pots and out of them two are from Andhra and two are from Tamil Nadu.The curry pots from Andhra are made with brass metal and called kooraginny and the ones from Tamil Nadu are made with bronze metal and called vengalapannai. Both the varieties have different shape though the utility and the functionality are same. In Hindi language curry pot is called handi.

 

Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a row
Antique Brass and Bronze curry pots in a row

 

Andhra Antique Brass curry pots called KooraGinni
Andhra Antique Brass curry pots called KooraGinni

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots called vengalapannai
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots called vengalapannai

 

The Andhra Brass curry pots have beautiful shape that serve both for functional purpose and aesthetic value.The” U” shaped coking vessel has a thick body so that the heat is distributed uniformly and the curry is cooked evenly.The brass pot has wide open mouth to facilitate easy movement of the ladle that is used for stirring the contents for uniform cooking.There is a wide rim at the mouth of the vessel so that the vessel is not slipped at the time of handling  and to have a firm grip.The wide mouth with the rim also helps in sealing the mouth with a metal plate to prevent the spicy vapors going out of the pot and preserve the moisture.

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size. Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -front view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size. Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -front view

 

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -top view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 5.5 inches ,width at the moth 7.5 inches -top view

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches-front view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches-front view

 

Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches -top view
Andhra antique Brass curry pot size.Height 4.3 inches ,width at the moth 6.3 inches  -top view

 

The Tamil Nadu counterparts have a lovely bowl like shape with narrow base and wide mouth.There is a grove between the main body of the cooking pot and the opening.This groove is designed for the hand grip and gives excellent aesthetic sense.The narrow base allows the flames of the fire stretch up to the full length of the pot giving the pot uniform heat for excellent cooking results.I have acquired these enchanting pieces from an antique dealer in Madras, now called as Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu state.

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches, width at the mouth 7.0 inches -front view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches, width at the mouth 7.0 inches -front view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches ,width at the mouth 7.0 inches -top view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.5 inches ,width at the mouth 7.0 inches -top view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -front view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -front view

 

Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -top view
Tamil Nadu Antique bronze curry pots size Height 4.3 inches ,width at the mouth 6.75 inches -top view

 

The Andhra pots are the family inheritance. These pots were used by my mother and she used to turn out very delicious curries from these beauties. I also understand that my grandfather’s mother-in-law, KavammaGaru (garu is a respectable way of addressing elders), alsoused these wonderful pots for cooking mouth-watering curries. Her special dish was Vankaya karampettina koora. I understand that in our village Someswaram, the neighbours of our house used to plead with KavammaGaru to prepare this special dish and she used to prepare and distribute to them and enjoy such service as a gesture of good will. Even after her death, whenever they think of Kavammagaru, they used to praise her Vankaya karampettina koora. I am presenting the recipe of this wonderful dish passed on from Kavammagaru to my mother and there upon from my mother to my sisters and later to my wife. This antique brass curry pot and the recipe of Vankaya karampettina koora are more than 100 years old .The recipe is preserved and practiced by my wife so that we do not lose touch of this rare delicious dish.

 

How to cook Vankaya Kharampettina koora in Antique brass curry pot

The recipe for Vankaya Kharampettina koora

The speciality of the vankaya karampettina koora is that it is stuffed with a spicy powder of lentils, fenugreek seeds and redchillies. The fine taste of Indian lentils combined with the flavour of fenugreek seeds and the hot taste of red roasted chillies gives this dish a rare combination of taste that is to be experienced. The name Vankaya karampettina koora means the brinjal stuffed with hot spices. The brinjal is also called as aubergine or eggplant.

Ingredients required

12 fresh tender purple brinjals of round shape.

2 table spoons of Sanagapappu (Bengal gram)

2 table spoons of Minapapappu (Black gram)

Menthulu: 1/2 table spoon of Menthulu (fenugreek seeds)

10to12 Medium sized red dry chillies.

Preparation

Wash thoroughly the brinjals with the stalks. Trim the stalk ends.

To prepare the stuffing powder:

Take the antique brass curry cooking pot and heat it moderately on fire.Add ½ a table spoon of oil. When the oil is on medium heat add fenugreek seeds first followed by Bengal gram, black gram and red chillies cut into pieces.Fry till the grams take a golden brown colour and the red chillies take a darker shade of colour.Remove from the heat and cool the mixture in a plate.Put the mixture in a grinder and grind to a granular powder.Powder should not be too fine.It should be granular.

Prepare the brinjal for stuffing:

Take each brinjal and slit the bottom end upwards towards the stem till you reach the ¾ length of the brinjal .Make another similar slit from the bottom of the brinjal this time at right angles to the previous slit thus slitting the brinjalinto 4 sections.  Now the brinjal is ready for stuffing. Now stuff the powder into the slit sections of each brinjal till it holds. Stuff all brinjals.

Cooking the stuffed brinjal:

Heat 2 table spoons full of oil in the antique brass cooking pot .Add the stuffed brinjals one by one.  Stir the brinjals in the vessel so that the oil is smeared to each brinjal. Scatter the remaining powder over the brinjals. Sprinkle ¼ cup of water on the brinjals in the curry pot and cover with a thick plate as a lid on the pot, pour ¼ a cup of water in the plate, keep the fire in low and let the contents simmer on a low fire for  20 minutes.The water in the cover plate gets heated and there is heat surrounding the entire curry pot. This gives uniform heat to the brinjals for excellent cooking and seals the juices and flavors inside the pot. Keep tossing the brinjals occasionally by tilting the curry pot with jerks by holding the rim of the pot with a dry cloth. Stirring by ladle may damage the shape of the brinjal.  Cook for another 20 minutes or till the brinjals are well cooked to a tender soft condition. When you take them into serving dish hold each brinjal by stem or use a flat spoon like atlakada or dosa ladle.

Taste superb with hot rice and ghee or roti.

Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Brinjals for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Brinjals for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Fried Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora
Fried Ingredients for Vankaya Karampettina Koora

 

Powdered Fried Ingredients for VankayaKarampettina Koora
Powdered Fried Ingredients for VankayaKarampettina Koora

 

Slicing the brinjal using a table cutter
Slicing the brinjal using a table cutter

 

Stuffing the brinjal with spice powder
Stuffing the brinjal with spice powder

 

Stuffed brinjal ready to be cooked
Stuffed brinjal ready to be cooked

 

Place the stuffed brinjal in the hot oil
Place the stuffed brinjal in the hot oil

 

Brinjals being cooked in the kooraginni
Brinjals being cooked in the kooraginni

 

Tilt the Brinjals by jerking the pot using a dry cloth
Tilt the Brinjals by jerking the pot using a dry cloth

 

Cooked Brinjals ready for serving
Cooked Brinjals ready for serving

 

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Antique Brass Hair Untangler

Antique Brass hair untangler
Antique Brass hair untangler

This is picture of an antique brass hair untangler or a comb. I am very careful the usage of the word comb as the artifact does not identify with the characteristics of a comb. It is long and forked. The design is similar to that of two pronged fork. It is made of brass so the forked ends remain sturdy.

Long and forked design of the untangler
Long and forked design of the untangler

 

Two pronged edges and handle
Two pronged edges and handle

 

As the name suggests the Antique Hair untangler or detangler was used to remove knots from hair. The sharp and narrow design of the untangler helps it to easily penetrate the tangled hair and easily remove the knots. South Indian women usually kept hair long. Most of the goddesses like Lakshmi and Saraswathi are shown in pictures as having a long and lustrous hair topped by golden kireetam (crown).It is evident from the ancient scriptures till present day cultures in India, women liked their hair long beyond their waist length.

This beautifully crafted hair detangler is crafted with a long handle to facilitate a good grip so that it is not slipped from the hand when negotiating with a tough tangle of hair.The handle has a corrugated design with parallel ridges and furrows. This corrugation gives the required grip to the handle.For further grip there are grooves in between the ridges that also give excellent design aspect and aesthetic appeal to the handle. Detangler has two fork like teeth that are actually used to detangle the kinky hair.The knotted hair is kept on the palm and the sharp edges of the fork teeth are run dexterously into the knots and worked out to remove the knots. Initially the hair is separated with the four fingers using them like the four teeth of a comb. By running through the fingers, one will get the feel of the hair and the extent of tangling.Then the hair is combed with a wide-toothed comb and in the process if a snag is hit, the detangler is used to loosen the tangled strands of hair.

 

Parallel ridges on the handle bar
Parallel ridges on the handle bar

 

Image showing ridges and grooves for better grip
Image showing ridges and grooves for better grip

 

 Combing the hair after it has dried was not a viable option as the hair dries up in knots and becomes prone to breakage and damage. This untagler easily penetrates through any type of hair and makes it convenient to get rid of the knots and the long narrow design further aids the process.

The Antique brass hair untangler also consists of a rectangular hole on its handle. This hole was made so that the Antique Brass hair untangler can be hanged to a nail by a piece of thread close to the mirror.

Rectangular hole on four sides used for hanging the untangler
Rectangular hole on four sides used for hanging the untangler

 

This beautiful antique brass hair detangler is acquired from an antique dealer in Cochin, Kerala. Most of the ladies in Kerala fancy long hair as a tradition. Since long hair is prone to get tangled if proper care is not taken, Kerala women use the detanglers to keep their hair tangle free. Their hair is long, thick and shining with coconut oil which they apply profusely to their hair. There are various reasons for their long beautiful hair. Because of heavy rains in Kerala and the surrounding back waters, the weather is humid most of the time and this condition helps in moisturizing the hair. Kerala women rarely trim their hair hence allowing the hair to grow to its fullest length. They very rarely use chemical shampoos and rely mostly on traditional herbal ayurvedic lotions and powders. They always leave minimum amount of coconut oil on the head due to which their scalp is never in dry condition. The oil and moister keep the hair follicles and hair shaft healthy resulting in lustrous long and crinkle free hair.

 

A beautiful lady demonstrating the use of untangler
A beautiful lady demonstrating the use of untangler

 

 

A beautiful lady running the untagler through her hair
A beautiful lady running the untangler through her hair

 

Traditionally Kerala women take head bath every day after applying liberal dose of coconut oil in their hair. After the bath they do not dry their hair by rubbing against a towel or by hair dryer. Instead they wrap a thin cotton cloth around the wet hair like a turban which absorbs the excess moisture and retains required moisture for the hair. After that they keep the semi- wet hair loose and long by tying the hair loosely with few strands of hair picked from the sides of the head near the two ears. It is the dry hair that tends to tangle and moist hair is less prone to tangling. Most of the Kerala houses have their own tanks for their daily bath or at least a well. They go to work in the same semi- wet hair decorated with a string of jasmine flowers. These types of detanglers are not found in other parts of India and this is peculiar to Kerala and South Karnataka only.

May be it is the need that makes the artisans design and fabricate utility items such as these unique detanglers that help the ladies from this part of South India keep their beautiful hair tangle free.

 

 

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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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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.