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Antique Copper Water Storage Pot – Pani Ka Ghada

The dimensions of the pot: 15” diameter at the belly,  4” diameter at the mouth, Height – 12”

This antique copper water storage pot is from the state of Rajasthan, India. Most part of Rajasthan is a desert or arid land and water is a scarce commodity. It is a common sight in rural Rajasthan that women carry up to 3 pots full of water at a time on their head from a long distance.  The water acquired with such a trouble is very precious and has to be protected by all means. Keeping the environmental conditions in view, the artisan has designed the pot in such a way that maximum amount of water can be carried at a time and stored with minimum chance of spillage. This is evident from the thoughtful design of the pot with big belly of 15” diameter and a small opening at the mouth with 4”diameter. The big belly helps in carrying the large amount of water and a narrow mouth helps preventing spillage. The big belly also helps in keeping the balance of the pot on the head of the women carrying it. This antique copper water storage pot is known as Pani ka Ghada in Hindi, Neella Bindi in Telugu and Tavalai in Tamil languages respectively.

Design of the Copper Water Storage Pot

Antique copper water storage pot made out of 4 sections.
Antique copper water storage pot made out of 4 sections. Notice the 4 joints.

Antique copper water storage pot is a masterpiece of design. The spherical pot is made out of 4 sections.

Section 1: A convex bowl at the bottom.

Section 2: Concave upper part of the pot like an inverted bowl with a hole for the neck.

Section 3: Two inch ring for joining the upper part and bottom part of the pot and also to provide height to the pot.

Section-4: The neck with narrow opening with a solid brass rim. All the parts are assembled separately and welded jointly to give a perfect shape to the pot.

Antique copper water storage pot
Antique copper water storage pot – Decorative ridge at 2 places – neck joint and belly joint.

There are two decorative ridges provided to camouflage the welding joints. One ridge is provided at the joining of neck with the top of the belly and the second ridge is provided at the joint of upper part of the pot with the lower part.

Top view
Top view with embossed lotus flower with 10 petals design and 3 mini knobs in triangular position.

There is a beautiful lotus flower design embossed on the upper part of the belly of the pot. The lotus flower has 10 petals and at the end of each petal there are 3 decorative mini knobs in triangular position. The rim of the mouth is made with solid brass although the entire body is with copper. This may be because brass is stronger than copper and a strong rim is required to hold and lift the pot with water inside. There are two beautiful grooves on the brass rim. These grooves are deliberately designed to give better grip to handle the rim.

 Brass ring on the opening of the neck
Antique copper water storage pot – Brass ring on the opening of the neck with two grooves.

The inside of the pot is coated with tin metal and this process is called Kalai in Hindi and Tagaram poota in Telugu. By providing this coating, the artisan declares that this pot can be safely used for other liquids also that may react with copper. The second purpose for tin coating is that the additional metal coating adds to the strength of the pot and gives a rock like firmness to the otherwise soft copper pot.

Kalai,and Tagaram poota
Antique copper water storage pot – Coated with tin metal also known as Kalai,and Tagaram poota.

My Ownership of the Copper Water Storage Pot – The Story

I have collected this wonderful vintage copper pot from an antique dealer in Delhi. This handmade pot has excellent craftsmanship and lovely shape. It has marks like minor dents which are indicative of years of wear and tear. It has beautiful hammer marks but most of them were smoothened due to constant use and antiquity. When I purchased this wonderful pot some 25 years back, it had a natural copper patina (verdigris), greenish spotty patches on the body indicative of aged copper that was not cleaned for a long time. I cleaned the entire patina several times to bring it to the present colour of shining copper. It is with me since 25 years and I guess its total age could be more than 100 years.

 Side angle view
Antique copper water storage pot – Side angle view.

The Tradition of Copper Pot Making

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is a major centre for making vessels with copper and brass.  Jaipur was a new capital established by King Sawai Jai Singh II in the year 1727. He invited craftsmen, artisans, and traders and encouraged them to make the vessels of daily use and instituted trade centres. The utensil makers are called ‘Thatherey’ in Hindi  language. There is one street in Jaipur dedicated to the art of making Brass and Copper vessels called ‘Thatheron ki gali’ and this street exists since as old as the year 1727. The ‘Thatherey’ craftsmen had a booming business of copper vessels for water storage in the growing city and from rural Rajasthan. People preferred copper pots owing to the age old belief that water stored in copper pots known as Tamra Jal gives health benefits. You could read more about the benefits of storing water in copper pots here. Food items (both solid or liquid) stored in these vessels remained fresh for a long time compared to the other metals like aluminium and iron.

Inclined position view
Antique copper water storage pot – Inclined position view.

Making of the Copper Pot

To make the pot, a square or round piece of sheet is cut from the flat metal sheet and constantly beaten till required shape intended for the vessel is attained. The thickness of the sheet (gauge) is selected depending on the proposed vessel to be made. To achieve the controlled bending, the craftsman uses a solid iron metal ring firmly placed in the ground which is called “Bangad” to serve as a seat for the metal piece to work on it. The cut metal piece is placed on Bangad to work on the metal piece to get the shape of either concave or convex curve that is required for making a water pot. The beating is done by  iron hammers or by mallets of various weights and shapes known as ‘Khachara’ in Hindi language. The mallets have wooden handles to facilitate the beating with the right amount of pressure to get the desired shape. The wooden handles also provide better grip and control for making right dents on the sheet.

Left side tilted view
Antique copper water storage pot – Left side tilted view.

The craftsman first fabricates the required sheet metal sections and finally joins all the sections to give a final shape to the pot. The joining is done either by physical joining and beating technique or by welding using the brass welding rods. The welding is normally camouflaged by forming a decorative ridge over the line of welding thereby giving the vessel an aesthetic look and extra strength. After the fabrication, the pot is given an acid wash to give it a shining finish. The pot retains the beautiful hammer stroke marks that shaped the pot. The hammer marks give enormous beauty to the pot and enhance its form and texture. In fact, these miniature dents on the surface of the pot make the sheet metal of the pot stronger and do not give scope for others to manipulate the surface of the pot.

Copper pot or Ghada – As a Folk Musical Instrument

Antique copper pot or Ghada used as a folk musical instrument.
Antique copper pot or Ghada used as a folk musical instrument.

Ghada is also used as a folk musical instrument in certain parts of India like Punjab and Gujarat. Ghada can also be made with brass, silver and earth. The musician keeps the Ghada in his lap or in front of him and uses metal rings worn on fingers to play crisp notes on the sides of the Ghada. The tonal part of the sound is manipulated by closing and opening the mouth of the pot alternately with one hand placed on the rim of the mouth. Musicians in South India use similar pots made with earth known as Ghatam as a musical instrument. In the classical music of South India known as Carnatic music, Ghatam, Violin, Mridangam are standard accompaniments to the singer and the team performance  is called Sangeetha Kacheri.

Neck down and belly top view
Antique copper water storage pot – Neck down and belly top view.

Antique copper water storage pot - Bottom view.
Antique copper water storage pot – Bottom view.

You can read in detail about the benefits of using a copper jug or pot to store drinking water:


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