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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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Kidaram – Large Brass Water Storage Pot

Kidaram, the huge brass water storage pot on pedestal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This large brass storage pot is known as Kidaram in Tamil language. Kidaram is used for storage of water in the area known as Chettinadu in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Chettinadu is a dry area and in the olden days where corporation water supply was not available through the running pipelines, people used to depend on rain water for drinking purpose. Rain water used to be collected in a large vessel with wide open mouth placed directly under the sky to capture as much water as possible and then the collected water would be transferred to kidaram for storage.

Usage Of Kidaram For Fetching And Storage Of Water

There is another method for collection of rain water for drinking purpose. Chettinadu houses are designed to have large courtyards open to sky within their huge houses. The openings have a sloping roof from all four sides and rain water would pour down into the floor of the courtyards. By this design of the house, the Chettinadu people used to have rain water pouring down into their own houses. The flowing water from the roof used to be collected into the kidaram directly after filtering the water through clean white veshti (dhoti or pancha) or white saree traditionally worn by elderly widows. The old photo albums of Chettiyar’s marriage functions reveal the use of these large kidarams mounted on the traditional bullock carts to bring water from the local temple tank called ‘Oorani for cooking feast for the guests.

The circumference of the huge brass pot is 8 feet 4 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Design Of Kidaram

The storage pot has a huge belly to enable preserving large quantity of water with a narrow neck to prevent spillage or evaporation of the water. This pot shown in the picture has belly circumference (perimeter) of 8.4 feet and looks really huge. The height is 3 feet 10 inches with pedestal and 3 feet 4 inches without pedestal. The bottom circumference is 6 feet 7 inches. The base of the neck is 11 inches in diameter and the opening of the neck is 1 feet 2 inches in diameter. The rings of both sides of the neck are 5 and ½ inches each. The height of the lid is 6 inches. The huge pot weighs 40 kilos without the pedestal. It has to be carried by two people at least and is normally transported by inserting a long bamboo pole through the two rings and each person shouldering the each end of the pole.

The height of the huge water pot is 3 feet 10 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kidaram is the largest of all variety of vessels used in Chettinadu homes. This huge vessel matches with the gigantic scale of the architecture of the houses. Kidaram is used as a water harvesting device along with the sloping roof and open courtyards which facilitate the rain water to flow into the house. An excellent and ingenious design invented by Nagarathar to harvest water in the drought prone Chettinadu. These beautiful kidarams would normally decorate the four corners of the ‘Mutram,’ another name for open courtyard. If not four, at least one kidaram will be in one corner containing drinking water. The height of the kidarams varies between 3 to 7 feet. The kidarams are made out of either copper or brass. Though copper kidarams are costly, they preserve the purity of water for more than 6 months. That is the magic of the copper. It is interesting to note that the lid to this giant vessel comes in the shape of a roof of a hut.

Kidaram without pedestal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An angled view of kidaram with large belly, narrow neck and a lid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top view of the kidaram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admire the hand made ring of 5.4 inches diameter riveted to the neck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lid of the kidaram in the shape of the roof of a hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colour Of The Kidaram

The colour of the vessel looks brownish green because of  formation of patina on the surface of the brass vessel due to age. According to my estimate it should be 150 years to 200 years old  belonging to early 1860s. It is natural that a thin protective layer forms on the surface of aged brass or copper items and this layer is called ‘patina’ which will be brownish green initially and turns into beautiful green colour as per the age of the exposed metal.

The best example of patina is the famous Statue of Liberty, the colossal sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States which is made out of copper. Instead of the original copper colour of pinkish brown, it looks greenish due to formation of patina over the 130 years of exposure to nature. It was commissioned in the year  1886 and is nearly 130 years old.

Statue of Liberty, made with copper metal, appearing in green colour due to formation of patina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is patina?

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Patina (/ˈpætɨnə/ or /pəˈtiːnə/) is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of stone; on copper, bronze and similar metals (tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes); on wooden furniture (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing); or any such acquired change of a surface through age and exposure. Patinas can provide a protective covering to materials that would otherwise be damaged by corrosion or weathering. They may also be aesthetically appealing.”

Antique lovers, particularly from the west, love their antiques with the original patina formation. Patina gives a beautiful brownish green colour to the metallic objects and is aesthetically appealing. Some people prefer their antiques cleaned thoroughly of the patina to reveal the original color of the object when it was made. Archaeologists find out the age of the object by analyzing the patina.

How I Collected This Wonderful Brass Pot

During one of my trips in search of antiques, I happened to see this beauty in an antique shop in Karaikudi town in Chettinadu. It looked stunningly beautiful and my instinct prompted me to possess it. After the initial inquiries with the shop owner, I realized it is beyond my reach to buy the piece. I kept on dreaming about it. In one of my conversations, I mentioned to my friend Mr Jana Balasubramaniam, an investor by profession and Co-founder and Director in a company, whom we affectionately call Jana, about my visit to Karaikudi and my interest in antiques. He told me to inform him if I visit Karaikudi again and that he would make arrangements for my antique hunting. I did so when I planned to have a second visit.

 Jana introduced me to Mr Muralidharan, a native of Karaikudi and a well-known professional. Here I must say that Mr Muralidharan is an excellent host and he personally accompanied me to the antique shops. I confessed to him my desire to own the huge brass water storage pot if I get it within my budget. It was a pleasant surprise to me that the shop owner greeted Mr Muralidharan with respect in the local Tamil language and enquired about the purpose of his visit to his shop. I later realized that being a local professional, most of the shop owners in the locality know him and he was well regarded. Mr Muralidharan managed to finalize the price within my budget including a stone pedestal to mount the huge pot (if the brass pot is not mounted on a stone or a wooden pedestal, there are chances of the base of the pot getting damaged),  packing, forwarding and transporting the vessel by road to reach Hyderabad where I reside. The pot was delivered to me in an excellent condition and now it occupies a prominent place in my house with every visitor admiring its regal elegance.

Mr Muralidharan with tha kidaram in the antique shop at Karaikudi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am grateful to Jana for his wonderful gesture of introducing me to Mr Muralidharan and for making excellent arrangements for my visit to Karaikudi. I am indebted to Mr Muralidharan for taking care of me so well and making it possible for me to own this grand vessel.

The Unique Architecture Of Chettiar Houses

Here I must say something about Chettinadu and Chettiar’s houses. Chettinadu is a hot and semi-arid region. The Chettinadu houses were designed  taking into consideration  the climate of the region. The materials for construction were selected accordingly to insulate and ventilate the houses. The central point of the houses were the courtyards facing east/west and the houses are built around the courtyards that bring in  light, sun, shade, air and rain to the house. Chetti is a short form of Chettiars, also known as Nagarathar, the trading  and finance business community in Tamil Nadu. Chettinadu means the region where Chettiars live. They are also called as ‘Nattu Kotai Chettiars’ meaning the Chettiars who live in the houses resembling mini forts or local forts. This entrepreneurial community developed their own architecture and town planning and their houses are unique in their size and design. The houses are huge mansions normally extending from one road to next parallel road. The front entrance door will start in one road and the backend exit door will be in the next parallel road.

A Chettinadu house with intricate wooden work on the roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The general design is that there will be a central courtyard with a high decorated roof surrounded on four sides by corridors supported by huge wooden pillars. From the corridors will be the entrance to the array of rooms for the family. There will be two or three courtyards in a typical house. The striking part of the houses is the highly carved wooden doors and windows .The houses are generally finished with special plaster made out of lime and the white of the egg, stucco work, terracotta tiled roofs, marble floors and Athangudi tiles that come in a myriad of colors and patterns, and stain glassed windows. The entrances of the houses are adorned with the icons of Gajalakhmi, Parvathi Parameswar and Meenakshi Sundereswar. The belief is that Gajalaksmi brings in wealth and prosperity and Shiva Parvathi couple brings in happy family life to the residents.

Top view of the kidaram without the lid
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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 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 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.