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Antique Hand-held Brass Fan

Antique hand-held brass fan with peacock neck handle
Antique hand-held brass fan with peacock neck handle

I am going to present to you an antique hand-held brass fan which I have collected recently that was used by a rich landlord during the Zamindari system in pre-independence India. This beautiful brass fan is acquired from a gentleman by name Adinarayanan whose great grandfather was working as a chief accountant for a wealthy landlord in present Tamil Nadu state,India somewhere in the pre-independence era or the early 19s.  It was given as a gift by the landlord to his Chief accountant for the services rendered to him. In the days of Rajas and Zamindars, it is a common practice to bestow gifts to the devoted persons as a mark of appreciation and honor. As it was heavy, the owner would have his servant to do the fanning during important social and cultural functions as it was considered a mark of status. It has been in Shri Adinarayana’s family for more than 3 generations.

 

The Design Of The Brass Hand-held Fan

This hand-held brass fan is designed to give appearance as a fan made out of Palmyra palmtree leaves which is used very common in those days and even now in rural areas of India as it is very handy, light and inexpensive. The fan is round in shape and the handle is designed to look like a peacock neck with the beak clutching the fan. There is a stitching design joining the leaves of the fan.There is a border design all around the periphery of the fan resembling the stitching the borders with a design to prevent the leaves from damage during handling.The whole fan is so ingeniously designed to combine esthetics with functionality.

Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak
Antique hand-held fan showing a peacock holding the fan with its beak

The History And Evolution Of The Fan

Man is always in constant search of comfort and happiness. He has devised tools and implements that give him the desired level of comfort and a sense of feeling good. Man has developed ingenious methods to counter the vagaries of nature that make him uncomfortable and developed ways and means to be cozy and comfy.

He invented the primitive umbrella to protect himself from rain and covered himself with animal skin and cloth made out of plant material. To ward off oppressive heat and sultry weather, the primitive man made hand-held fans with dried leaves to create air movement around him to get relief from his discomfort. The very origin of primitive fans most likely was to hasten up the burning of fire and also to chase away the insects that disturbed the man and eventually acquired a prestigious place. For ages, long handled hefty fans were ritualistic symbols of supremacy, the privilege of Kings, Pharaohs and Priests. Even in present times, fans of this magnitude are ceremonially carried in formal religious processions.

The humble primitive fans have taken a different avatars as man improvised different verities with different materials as civilization progressed. He started making fans with feathers, ostrich plumes, ,bamboo, cane, palm leaves, roots, silk and cotton cloth, ivory, wood , fine metals and with as fragile as a butterfly`s wings. To enhance his comfort level, he developed larger fans that can be held and swung by other individuals like his servants and slaves. He also developed remote fanning device like Pankha that can be fixed above him and can be pulled by a rope held by a person sitting in a remote place. With the invention of electricity, man used this wonder power to create the present electric fan that provides him air by pressing a button. The simple fan has taken a very colorful journey through out the growth of civilization by serving the need of a common man to, nobles, kings, queens and gods as well. It became part of religious rituals and a mark of social status symbol.

A hand-held fan made out of fragrant roots called VattiVeru resembling the design of the antique brass hand-held fan
A hand-held fan made out of fragrant roots called VattiVeru resembling the design of the antique brass hand-held fan
Hand –held brass fan showing the design joining the leaves and boarder design around the edge of the fan
Hand –held brass fan showing the design joining the leaves and boarder design around the edge of the fan

Hand Held Fans – My Childhood Memories

 It is considered as a good deed if you gift to someone a fan during the summer seasons of India. In my village Someswaram, Andhra Pradesh, India, Sri Rama Navami, the birth day of Lord Rama is celebrated in great devotion. Normally, this festival falls in the summer months of April or May. As a boy, I used to attend this festival being celebrated in our village temple without fail since I used to get a palm leaf fan and a mango fruit free.

In our area, it is a strong belief that if any one gifts a fan and a mango fruit during the summer season they acquire lot of divine blessings. Imagine someone doing that now in this modern age. Picture yourself walking up to your friend or relative and gifting them a fan and one single mango fruit? How do you think they would react?

Anyways, getting back to the past, sometimes we used to get two or three fans also if there are more than one donor.We never had electricity in our house and the only source of getting some air is by these palm leaf fans.It is a regular even practice in our home that preparation of bed for the night include a leaf fan next to the pillow. We used to do self-fanning with our hands alternately till the fan automatically dropped out once sleep set in.

Truly Multi-Purpose!

This fan has a multi-purpose use. My mother used to use these fans for airing the charcoal stove to get the required flame for cooking food. My grandfather used these fans to chase away the flies during his mid-day mango feasting session.My grandfather was a mango lover and during the season he used to eat 10 to 12 fruits daily during the afternoons after soaking the mangoes in a large brass vessel for an hour to cool them and wash them before eating.

Hand-held Fans In Religious Ceremonies

One of the devotional services rendered during Pooja ceremony to the Gods is Vinjamaramseva. Vinjamaramin Sanskrit means fan. After the Abhishekam (ceremonial bath), Harati (ceremonial camphor flame circled around the god) and Naivedyam(offering of food to the gods), Vinjamaramseva (fanning the god) is done in a traditional pooja.

It is written in Aagamasastra (the scriptures that describe the religious pooja ceremony) how to do a traditional pooja ceremony to different Gods and Goddesses.One of the most important rituals is to wave the fan in front of the God to circulate air around him.This is done in two ways:

the hand-held fans generally made out of wood or bamboo covered with silk cloth with frills around it

(or)

With onemade out of metals like brass,silver and gold or with peacock feathers.

Chamaram- The fan made out of the tail hair of the Yak
Chamaram- The fan made out of the tail hair of the Yak

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Picture showing chamaram being waved in front of the deity at the ceremonial Pooja time
Picture showing chamaram being waved in front of the deity at the ceremonial Pooja time

There is another type of fan called as chamaram, made out of the hair from the tail of a yak. Chamaram is of a different shape.One end of the Yak hair is inserted into a handle made out of a metal.The other end of the hair is spread out loose.These types of fans are used in the religious Pooja ceremonies of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples as well.

The Yak tail hair is considered as sacred.The Yak is an animal belonging to cattle family with long hair found in the Himalayan region of southern part of the central Asia,Tibet, Mongolia and as north as Russia.

Pankha – A Hand Operated Hanging Fan

 

Pankha is a hanging fan invented by Britishers during their British rule in India to have a constant supply of air to get relief from the oppressive heat in India. Pankha is made in a rectangular shape with a combination of wood and cloth, with or without frills, hung to a ceiling with ropes and pulleys and pulled with a rope to create fanning movement. The pankhas subsequently became a common sight in royal and aristocratic families,in the offices of the Britishers and high ranking officers. The rope is pulled by a rope-puller who sits outside the pankha room and pulls the rope repeatedly in a front and back motion. During the British rule, there was a permanent post called “Pankha Puller”and the person holding that job was a proper government employee in many offices. You must have seen something similar in old Hindi and Telugu movies.

Picture showing the Pankha hanging from the roof of the room with ropes and pulleys in a vintage house
Picture showing the Pankha hanging from the roof of the room with ropes and pulleys in a vintage house

I had this wonderful experience of seeing a Pankha being pulled by a peon in a judicial court. I  completed my class 7(seventh standard, then known as 2nd form) in a town called Peddapuram in Andhra Pradesh in the year 1953 staying in the house of my maternal uncle Shri. Rajapantulu. My uncle used to work for a lawyer and he used to be in the court during the court timings between10.00 AM to 5.00 PM.

If I had to see him for any purpose, I used to go to the court. The court was a huge British type of building with high ceiling and there used to be a Pankha on the ceiling above the place where the judge sits.There used to be apankha puller, an old man with official peon uniform which consisted of a turban, white trouser or dhoti and a white closed neck top, a cotton belt around his waist and a wide cotton belt across his chest resting on his left shoulder and draping on to the right side of the waist holding a brass rectangular plate that is inscribed with the name of his office.

Certain Interesting FactsAbout Hand-held Fans

 – Christopher Columbus brought a feather fan,among other items from newly discovered America and gifted it to Queen Elizabeth.

 – There is a museum dedicated to fans in 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich,London SE10 8ER..

 -Even in present times,fans of large size are ceremonially carried in Christian papal processions.

So that’s the story of the fan that I acquired. If you have any memories of using one or seeing one used in the days back then, do share your experience or memory of it. Would love to hear from you.

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A Door into the Past

             

Antique main door with carved frame,projected canopy,brass handle, locking chain and turmeric yellow threshold
Antique main door with carved frame,projected canopy,brass handle, locking chain and turmeric yellow threshold

 

Update: Here’s a video we’ve recently done. Do check it out and read the article for detailed information.

Gather around on the rug, its story time!

The sun is beginning to rise with its rays just beginning to filter in through the windows of the house. It wakes up a small boy, all of his seven years apparent in the curiosity his eyes held. He looks out of the window to see the bright green of the fields, and he hears the chirping of the birds and the tinkling of the flowing water nearby.

He wakes up to this every day of his life for the longest time. The house is as much a part of him as is the air he breathes; to have the privilege of living forever in the cradle of beauty and comfort of his home is something that appeals to him very much. It is a thought that stays with him, even later, when he no longer lives there as an adult and wakes to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Years go on by in this fashion, the yearning to go back to this house is strong and pulls with strength like never before. When the time for the move back to this house finally does arrive, alas, it is no longer feasible! The thought of the house, with its thick carved wood doors and windows, spacious halls and timeless splendor lying empty in wait for him disappoints him. A revolutionary idea hits him that if he can’t go to the house, he would bring the house to him. Against everyone’s seemingly sane advice, he brings back bit of his house back, the carved doors that kept him warm at night and the little windows that gave him perspective along with a view.

The wide-eyed curious boy of the story is an antiquities expert who is teaching me the ropes of the business. When I first met him, I figured that I might have trouble finding his house, but it was apparent from the first sight of his home, that it couldn’t have been anyone’s. The front door of the house is one that he painstakingly carefully brought back from his village, complete with the frame that it sits in; and not to mention the windows that only add to the authenticity of the whole look.

Full view of the door and the matching window seated with Ganesh idol
Full view of the door and the matching window seated with Ganesh idol

 

Close view of the door showing the details on the canopy
Close view of the door showing the details on the canopy

 

If you take a look at the picture of the door, you will see it is rather heavy. The solid-ness of the door is off-set by the patterns that are in the individual squares which form a rather delicate geometric pattern on the door. What makes this door as unique is, among other things, it is made of a single piece of wood! Let me now draw your attention to the lovely canopy that frames the door. Isn’t the hand carved detail on the frame a sight to behold?

There are a details on this door, that make it as special as the 140 year ancestral home it comes from, rather uncommon on the opulent doors of the present. The knocker on the door that you see is made of brass, which also serves as a handle. The shape of the knocker and the design of base is almost delicate in its flower like pattern.

The truly most significant aspect of the door, I have to admit, is the carving on the frame, I am not just talking about the pretty canopy on the top but the intricate design at the bottom. The sides of the frame, with the rising cone styled carving, is very typical of the older artists. The bottom of the pattern is a running band that almost gives it a lace-like finish and the actual pattern with its delicate leaves and twirls is a perfect contrast with the geometric pattern on the door itself.

Handmade intricate design and wood work done on the canopy panel
Handmade intricate design and wood work done on the canopy panel

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Closer view of the wood work done on the sides of the canopy panel
Closer view of the wood work done on the sides of the canopy panel

  For me, what makes this door as memorable as it is, is the fact that it is not one door that opens to one side, but two doors that throw their arms open to welcome you into the house. If you have had the opportunity to visit your own or anyone’s ancestral home in a village, you will see that is rather characteristic of that day and age.

Though, just because it looks like a fancy door, does not mean that the artist skimped on the security aspect. It may not be as fancy as the peepholes-security-camera of today, but it has a pretty heavy chain that allows you to open the door partially, to peek out of. It locks from the inside with a wooden plank that fits across the door, effectively barring anyone’s entry into the house.

The beauty of the door and its frame is only enhanced by the turmeric yellow with the vermillion dots that adorn the base of the frame. It is a rather common practice of staining the entrance with the yellow of turmeric, indicating a pious threshold.

For me, what completes the look is the window frame that you see in the picture. It originally started off being a window that has now been re-purposed to a frame to house Ganesha, the God of good beginnings. It almost feels like it is indeed a window, with God himself on the other side, smiling indulgently at you. It is this frame that just ameliorates the beauty of the door, taking you to a simpler time in history.

Back side view of the door with wooden plank across the door and heavy chain
Back side view of the door with wooden plank across the door and heavy chain

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Now to the present builders of houses, it would seem that preserving the past was a great idea, and it definitely is, there is nothing quite like the workmanship of the years gone by. So, if you are redecorating and have access to antique woods and woodwork, incorporating it into your home isn’t the hardest thing to do.The doors I speak of today have the ability to teleport you into the past, where times were simpler, the air was cleaner and the sound of chirping was all the alarm you needed. This young boy in the story did eventually end up living happily, surrounded by all the things which made his childhood special.

 

Article by

Vineetha Rao Suravajjala
Vineetha Rao Suravajjala

 

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Antique Glass Jar With Lid

This antique glass jar with lid shown in the picture has subtle curves, clean lines, with bulbous lid handle. The glass container is hard by nature, neutral on pallet and visually gives a relaxed feeling when looked at.The magnificent visibility is a great advantage to identify the contents quickly. This was purchased by my Grandfather Yenugu Krishna Murthy garu in the year 1916 and it is now 98 years old. Garu is a Telugu word used to address elders with respect. I have a lot of emotional attachment to this bottle as it is a companion to me for several years feeding me with variety of snacks.

 

Antique glass jar with lid- angle view

 

I lost my father at a young age and I grew up under the care of my mother and grandfather.Though I used to have my regular food from my mother and snacks like onion pakoda, banana bajji and an occasional sweet item Mysore paak, my heart is to crave for snacks like chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For such items the source is my grandfather. My grandfather’s room used to be very attractive for my young heart. There used to be a bed with high pillows,a writing table full of books,ink bottle with dipping pen, lots of books, an agarabatti (incense stick) stand in the shape of an elephant, a Rudraksha mala(a garland of Rudraksha prayer beads) brass and wooden cymbals for doing bhajan and a huge family portrait of Lord Shiva withwife Parvathi, sons Ganesh and Kumaraswamy, his vahanam Nandi and most interesting thing out of all itemsfor me is two cookie jars one  filled with Tapeswaram Kaja (a type of sweet made in town called Tapeswaram which is very famous in those days and even now for the sweet item Kaaja) and one filled with J.B Mangharam brand biscuits, chocolates and peppermints. My grandfather used to take biscuits along with his morning and evening coffee and used to chew peppermints during afternoon times when he used to feel his mouth was dry .Though he never used to take sweets he used to keep them for me and my sister and other children who used to visit us. Whenever we feel like having some snacks we used to go to his room and he used to give us biscuits peppermints and sweets. So my association with these glass jars are very pleasant and whenever I see these bottles I am immersed with nostalgic memories of my grandfather and his room.

 

Antique glass jar with lid-filled with Tapeswaram kaaja

 

Antique glass jar with lid- top view

 

Antique glass jar with “SGF” letters within diamond mark and ” MADE IN JAPAN “ inscription

 

It is also interesting how he got these beautiful bottles.Those were the days of British rule in India and some of the pockets like Yanam in present Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry in present Tamil Nadu state were French colonies.My village Someswaram is around 40 miles from Yanam. French used to do their own trading and the foreign shipments used to come to Yanam which has a moderate port. Thehawkers from the villages around Yanam used to smuggle interesting items and sell them in nearby villages carrying them in bamboo basket held on their head. They used to come to our village also and used to come to our house being a regular customer. During one of such visits they brought these beautiful glass jars and my grandfather fell in love with these cute jars at first sight and purchased them.

The imposing antique glass jar   has a stamp embossed on the body as “SGF” with a diamond design around it .Down the diamond design are embossed letters in capital reading as  “ MADE IN JAPAN “. The word SGF stands for the company that manufactured this jar and obviously made in Japan. The lid also has embossed inscription “MADE IN JAPAN”. 

 

Antique glass jar with lid in inclined position

 

Antique glass jar without lid

 

Lid design- showing collar groves lid handle design with knob on the top

 

The antique glass jar with lid is round Barrel shaped with 6 inches diameter of the barrel and height of 7.5 inches. With the lid it is 9 inches high. The barrel narrows into a neck with an opening of 5 inches diameter at the mouth of the neck. There is a beautifully designed lid to the bottle which fits into the bottle by friction.The neck of the bottle is1.5 inches high and the collar of the lid is one inch high which snuggly fits into the neck of the bottle.There are fine grooves on the surface of the collar which help to have a tight grip and prevent insects.It is almost air tight. There is a beautifully designed knob on the lid with embossed pattern which serves as a grip and decorative appeal. The bottle has vertical mould seems running from top to the bottom of the glass indicating that the glass jar is made with machines around 1915. The handmade blown glass jars will not have the mould seems.

How glass Jars are made?

 

Glass is made out of sand(silica or quartz), lime stone(calcium) and soda ash. The mixture of these 3 components along with small amounts of ferric oxide, aluminium oxide, sulphur trioxide, barium oxide, magnesia are put is a gas furnace and heated up to 160 degrees centigrade. In some cases boric oxide is added to increase the durability and strength and lead is added for brilliance. The ingredients mix and melt and form into hot glowing molten glass. Normally the furnace runs for 15 years non-stop .With the help of automatic shears the running molten glass is cut into blobs known as “gobs”. The gobs are pushed down into the shape forming machine and the glass is moulded. Air is blown into the moulded glass so as to fit into the mould completely thus forming a jar shape. This partially shaped jar is called “parison”. The final shape of the Jar is done by passing on the Parison to another “blow mould” where air is blown into to get the final required jar shape. Then to make the jar tough and scratch proof, cool air is blown over it and then the jar is coated. The jar is further strengthened by passing it through an oven which is called “Lehr” and by heating it up to 550 degree centigrade.

 

Glass jar with lid is used as Store counter canister to display biscuits in an Iranian restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Made in Japan“ inscription on the lid

 

Multiple Uses of Glass bottle

This antique majestic glass jar can be used for storing and displaying many items. This wonderful see-through container with lid is used as Store counter canister to display prominently. This classic jar is a timeless piece that can be used in any room of the house. This can be used to store sugar, flour, candy, cookies, coffee, tea and snacks and many more. They make excellent cookie jars.  This can be used as a hobby jar to keep items like ribbons and wool which stay clean and dry. Ideal for display, in sweet shop that will give the shop an antique touch. The Iranian restaurants in Hyderabad and Mumbai used to keep their famous osmania biscuits in similar jars for counter display and to keep them fresh. These osmania biscuits go well with the Irani Chai (Tea). Any tourist visit to Hyderabad is not complete without tasting Osmania biscuits with Irani chai and Hyderabadi dum biryani in the Iranian restaurants for which Hyderabad is famous.

Types of glass

There are two types of glass production sheet production and container production. Jar and Bottle manufacturing is a part of Glass container production. The modern glass production uses machines while traditional glass making is done by glass-blowing and blow-moulding. Even now for creative art work and custom designed objects, glass blowing methods are used. Containers such as jars, bottles, tumblers, wine glasses, and bowls are made out of container glass. Glass items like window glass, glass doors, and transparent walls like in show cases are made out of Flat glass. Glass fibre is also made out of glass which is used for thermal insulation, fibre glass material and optical communication.

 

The lid fits tightly into the mouth of the jar- air tight

 

Grooves on the collar of the lid

 

 

How to find the antiquity of glass Jars

The antique jars will give certain clues and specific characteristics by which one can find out the time when the jar is made.

v  All the jars made before 1860 can be identified by their Pontil scar. The glass blower used to hold the hot jar with a devise called pontil rod to protect himself while the jar is in making. This pontil rod leaves a dark indentation mark or a ring of glass on the base of the jar.

v  The glass jars made before 1915 do not have mould seems since they were not using mould to make the jars.The jars made after 1915 were made with machines with moulding technique have mould seams in the form of a line running from top of the jar to the bottom of the jar.So if the jar has mould marks it is made after 1915.

v  If you find scratches and scars on the bottom side of the glass jar,it was most probably made before 1915 by hand and not by mould. The jars made by mould will contain uniform marks.The handmade jars will have rough surface and seems around it.

How Glass gets its colour

The colouring of the glass is both a science and art.The natural glass has inherent shades of green tint, aqua, and light blue. These colours are produced by the iron content in the ingredients that used in the making of glass.Some ingredients are added to alter the natural inherent colours like manganese for purple; selenium for red, pink; cobalt for rich blue. Different host of colours can be produced by adding several elements used to colour the glass.

Use of glass in high technology products

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) glass plates are used as components in products such as computer monitors, mobile smart phones,note books,tablets,television screens,microwave display panel.The latest wearable computer  “Google Glass”like a pair of eyeglasses contains a small glass LCD display panel and the main frame is made out of titanium and quality plastic for a lighter weight.

Some Interesting facts about glass

 

v  Decorative beads were made with glass as early as 12,000 BC by Egyptians.

v  The amount of iron and other colouring agents in the mixture determine the colour of the glass.

v  Up to 300 tonnes of glass can be produced by a single furnace.

v  Every year 1.4 million tonnes of used-glass is transported for land filling. 4.2 billion Jars and bottles can be manufactured if the same glass is recycled or reused.

v  You can recycle glass infinite number of times without the loss of quality.

v  In the year 2003, the recycled quantity of glass is 8, 90,000 tonnes.  2.7 billion Jars and bottles can be made with this amount of glass.

v  The energy saved by recycling one single bottle can power one television for 1.5 hours.

 

 

To know about milk glass, the discovery of glass and many more aspects of the glass please click on this link http://ykantiques.com/2013/12/vintage-milk-glass-tumbler.html

 

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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.