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Mystical Copper vessel

Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob
Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob

Copper has played an important role in human civilization. It is one such element that has been extensively used in shaping up the history and culture of Asian countries and the world at large.Copper holds the significance of being an essential mineral required by our body to finding a place in the temples and monasteries as a vessel of prime importance on which food is offered to the Gods.

As the saying goes “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, people who value aesthetic taste and sense will any day opt for items that look unique and rare and that are made up of copper or brass. A midst all antique and vintage items, one such rare collectible is the “Mystical Copper Vessel”.

What makes this container unique and valuable is the embellishment it has on its body. This container is primarily made up of copper with white metal embossment. A closer look at the container reveals carved white metal dragons and a mythical face making it obvious that this container originated in Tibet and became popular amongst the Buddhist monks or people of some prominence.The mythical face later discovered as Kirthimukha after a detailed research.

Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob –an angle view
Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob –an angle view

About the mystical copper vessel:

This vessel is hand made of pure copper in a cylindrical shape with a decorative lid. There are three white metal strips embedded around the vessel,one at the bottom,one at the top and one at the middle.The gap in these strips are filled with white metal carved embellishments of single dragons surrounded by intricate design forming a round shape,pair of dragons intertwined forming a rectangular design and a Kirtimukha

Talking about the physical appearance of this mystical vessel, it looks like a cylinder and features all the properties of a cylinder; it has a flat base that can stand or slide and a curved body that can roll. This container comes with the lid that is detachable and has a handy knob on the top and three dragon motifs in white metal surrounding the knob.The white metal knob has a shape of two cones tapering smoothly to opposite sides from a central round base.One tip of the cone is embedded into the center of the lid surrounded by intricate circular white metal design. There are three white metal dragon around the circular design.

Once the lid is placed over the container, it gets securely sealed making the lid look like an extended version of the vessel. It also has white metal holders attached on the sides; the holders are round in shape and resemble rings that are capable of moving around. The purpose of the holder is to make it easy in lifting the vessel and maneuvering it around. The other advantage of having those holders is to have a tight grip on the vessel and stop it from slipping from your hands while lifting or moving. The exact use of the vessel is unknown. However, we assume that it must have been used to store some items related to Buddhist religious ritual.

The embellishment of single dragon surrounded by intricate design forming a round shape
The embellishment of single dragon surrounded by intricate design forming a round shape
The embellishment twin dragons intertwined forming a rectangular design
The embellishment twin dragons intertwined forming a rectangular design

The dragon in Buddhist Mythology.

According to the Buddhist mythology, dragon is depicted as a creature withcreative power and positive energy; it is also associated with change and wealth.They also depict courage, strength, passion, creativity and mastery. Dragons are also considered ashaving magical and balancing powers. They make us to get into our deep psyche and visualize the world through wonder and mystery.The dragon is the supreme being of the basic elements of wind,water,earth and fire.Dragons are considered as controlling guide and guardians.

Representation of twin dragons.

The depiction of twine dragons represents that whatever the power the single dragon possesses are doubled in the depiction of twin dragons.Buddhists believe seeing the images of twin dragons in any form ,even in dream,indicate the good luck and fructification of their wish in double force.

Though dragons are imaginary creatures but you will find some signs depicting their existence in most Buddhist monasteries and Gumpas making it real. Dragons are also worshipped as the protectors of Buddhism. Like in Hinduism,‘snake’ is regarded as holy and worshipped in different forms, dragons are considered sacred in countries like Bhutan, Japan, China, Nepal and Tibet where the major religion is Buddhism.

Kirtimukha in Buddhist mythology.

Kirtimukha is also known as Zibaor, Zeeba, Zipak

In Sanskrit, the word mukha means the “face”and kīrti means “glory “. Thus Kirtimukha means the face of glory. The origin of “Kirtimukha” goes back to a legend from the SkandaPurana which says that an all-devouring monster created from Shiva’s third eye willingly ate his body starting by its tail till only his face is left with as per Lord Shiva’s order.Lord Shiva, pleased with the act of the monster gave the face the name of Kirtimukha, face of glory. Lord Shiva also blessed him that Kirtimukha will remain always at the entrance of the temples. Buddhists have adopted some of the mythological motifs of Hinduism into the construction of Buddhistcaitya, stupa and viharas and Kirtimukha became one of the prominent Buddhist motifs on the gateways of these Buddhist religious places.

Kirtimukha with demonic mask of great ferocity, protruding eye balls, stout horns and tongue protruding out clutching the wheel of samsara
Kirtimukha with demonic mask of great ferocity, protruding eye balls, stout horns and tongue protruding out clutching the wheel of Samsara

The main features of the Kirtimukha are depicted as having a demonic mask of great ferocity with protruding eyeballs, stout horns, and a gaping maw with prominent fangs or canine teeth and the tongue protruding out.  Kirtimukha is depicted as issuing garlands or festoons from the mouth. Festoon is a decorative chain of flowers, ribbons, etc, suspended in loops as in garland.  In Buddhist mythology the mouth of Keertimukha is depicted as clutching the wheel of samsara-depicting the impermanence of the life.

Kirtimukhas often appear above archways, dormer windows and gates, of the religious places. Kirtimukha is also the main feature in the cloth door hanging in the Buddhist temples called as a toran. The Tibitan Buddhist traditional banners and hangings that adore temples and shrine rooms are intricately embroidered with Kirtimukha. Most of the Buddhists regards Kirtimukha as a magical power that wards off evil spirits and hence an auspicious motif.

The story of Kitimukha

Jalandara was a powerful Asura king and he conquered all the three worlds. Lord Shiva’s marriage with Parvathi was to take place at that time. The proud Jalandara sends a word with his messenger Rahu,that Shiva should leave Parvathi alone since he plans to marry Parvathi as he is the right person for her hand. Lord Shiva becomes so angry that a dreadful being shoots out from his third eye.The dreadful being rushed ahead to eat away Rahu.Rahu pleads mercy with Lord Shiva and then Lord Shiva commands the dreadful being to leave alone Rahu.But the Dreadful being was so hungry and asks Shiva to give it food to eat.Shiva commands the being to eat its own body flesh and satiate its hunger.The being eats its own body starting from the tail leaving its own face.Pleased with the behavior of the dreadful being since it saved his honor by not eating Rahu for whom he has given protection,he blesses the face that hence forth it will be known as Kirtimukha and will decorate the gate ways of the temples.

Copper vessel-top view- showing 3 dragon motifs on the lid
Copper vessel-top view- showing 3 dragon motifs on the lid
Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob
Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob

The story behind why it is called Mystical vessel.

I have enquired with Mr. Y. Krishnamurthy, known as YK, as to how he collected this wonderful piece. He said when he was in Madras (now Chennai) in the year 1983,he saw an advertisement in Hindu newspaper that a family was shifting to USA and their household items were for sale. Immediately after he saw the ad, Mr. YK rushed to the address given and he surveyed all the items they have for sale. This copper vessel immediately attracted his attention and he fell in love at the first sight. He said, he does not know what for it is used and he does not know the meaning and the significance of the mythological embellishments on the copper vessel. The beautifully shaped copper vessel with the unknown magical motifs had casted a spell on him and the mystical charm of the vessel pulled him to buy the vessel. From then on words the vessel is referred to as mystical vessel.

The vessel is there with Mr. YK since last 33 years, but he does not know since how long the previous owners had it with them. He was told that the mystical copper vessel is from Tibet.

The cylindrical shaped Mystical copper vessel and the lid shown separately
The cylindrical shaped Mystical copper vessel and the lid shown separately
The intricate design work on the knob and the base of the knob
The intricate design work on the knob and the base of the knob

Antiquity and Mystical copper vessel

This particular item may not have been a household item as it looks grand, mystic and holds some kind of religious significance. It is definitely an antique masterpiece handed down over the years that has been successfully screaming the Buddhist culture.This mystical vessel is placed prominently in the hall of Mr. YK’s house and is a head turner.

It is not surprising to find statues and idols made of copper being worshiped by the Hindus and Buddhists all over the world. We have seen different types of idols, tools and utensils made of copper used as household items or items holding religious significance throughout the history. Copper utensils and vessels were widely used in the past, however, the trend is in a declining mode as people have changed with changing times and are getting used to using stuff made up of cheap plastic. Copper utensils and vessels are regarded as one of the finest items showcasing the culture and heritage of a particular era or a country.

The best thing about antiques is it always comes with a story that enlightens us with history, value, morals and culture. So this vessel is one of them. If you have any insights about this vessel, feel free to share the same with us. We would be glad to hear more about this vessel.

Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob –an angle view
Mystical copper vessel with 3 white metal strips, dragon embellishments and the lid with the knob –an angle view

 

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Srizna Nasme
Srizna Nasme
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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.

 

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Vineetha Rao Suravajjala
Vineetha Rao Suravajjala

 

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Health Benefits Of Drinking Water Stored In Copper Vessels

These days even doctors recommend patients to drink water stored in copper jugs overnight on empty stomachs. Our ancestors were wise and intelligent; no wonder they used vessels made of brass and copper and they lived a longer life and were healthier than our generation. Also according to Ayurveda, there are three doshas in our bodies namely vata, kapha and pitta and it is commonly believed drinking water stored in copper jug has the ability to balance all these three doshas of our bodies.

Most of us store water in steel jugs or plastic bottles and we know drinking water in plastic bottles is not safe. Fancy bottles available in markets are made of cheap plastic which can cause health hazard in the long run. Steel vessels are better compared to plastic bottles but the best ones are the jugs, lotas and chombu that are made of copper. These copper vesselspossess an antique look and a vintage touch.

Antique Maharashtra Copper vessel for storage of water, it Can store water sufficient for 5 days
Antique Maharashtra Copper vessel for storage of water, it Can store water sufficient for 5 days (normal usage)

Given an opportunity, I would love to have only brass and copper utensils at home. The reason behind this is: firstly it looks classic and adds glamour to your kitchen and secondly it is healthy to eat or drink in these vessels or utensils. I had heard so much about the copper wonder jug that I literally wanted to own it, but at the same time I never really went out to buy it. Like they say if you really wish for something, it will come true and guess what? I got a classy looking copper jug as a wedding gift, I was on cloud nine then and I still am. The reason why I am going gaga over this jug is because it has quite a lot of benefits and I personally have experienced them.

These copper vessels, particularly the antique copper jugs, tumblers, drinking pots and storage vessels are a style statement in themselves; they come in different shapes and sizes. Some even have matching accessories that can make your dining table look royal. These antique copper vessels look traditional but at the same time they are so elegant. I am sure by now you are already visualising a copper vessel in your house.

Iyengar copper chombu can hold almost 3 glasses of water
Iyengar copper chombu can hold almost 3 glasses of water

Well, let me tell the benefits of drinking water stored in copper vessels. We are aware that our body needs adequate amount of minerals and one such mineral is copper which when consumed in small quantity helps in proper functioning of our body. Copper, when it comes in contact with water, releases its positive properties, which is extremely healthy.

Drinking This Water Can Help Us In Many Ways

  • Copper helps in digestion and prevents ailments like ulcers and indigestion. Copper has the properties to kill harmful bacteria in the stomach.
  • Drinking water stored in copper vessel in empty stomach can detox your body and helps in proper functioning of liver and kidneys. It further aids in weight loss and slows down aging.
  • As copper is anti-bacterial in nature, it helps in healing wounds and boosting your immune system.
  • Recent studies show that copper helps in regulating cardio vascular diseases, hyper tension and can even help in fighting cancer.

There are hundreds of other benefits, you will have to believe it and trust me you won’t regret buying a nice antique or contemporary copper vessel.

Ganga Jamuna antique copper lota. The water stored in it gets the benefit of both copper and brass
Ganga Jamuna antique copper lota. The water stored in it gets the benefit of both copper and brass

However, before you pick it off the shelf there are a few things you have to be cautious about. While buying a copper vessel, for example, look for a vessel that is made of pure copper and not a one that is an amalgamation of alloys. Copper is a soft metal and it is difficult to mould it into delicate designs. If there are carvings or if the vessel looks really fancy then you have to understand that there is some other metal mixed with copper. Hence, it is better to buy pure copper vessels that look simple and plain.

Next thing to do after purchasing the vessel is to clean it thoroughly. Before you start using it, make it a point to clean it properly with soap and lime juice. You can cut a slice of lime and rub it all around and inside the vessel, rinse it with clean water and pat dry. You can also use tamarind fruit juice in place of lime.

Avoid using coarse scrubbers as copper might erode and there may be scratch marks on the vessel.You can also use baking soda with water to wash your priced copper vessel. Avoid using the branded chemical cleaners that are available in the market since they interact with copper metal and take away the upper layer of the vessel.

Did You Know?

About two glasses of water stored in a copper vessel per day is enough for you to reap the benefits.

Antique copper tumbler, Tulasi leaves enhance the benefits of water in copper vessel
Antique copper tumbler, Tulasi leaves enhance the benefits of water in copper vessel

Gifting Idea? Why Not?

The copper vessel would be an ideal gift for every occasion. So next time when you have to attend a wedding or a birthday party, you know what to buy. You would be giving an item at the same time you would be gifting good health. Age old techniques that have passed the test of time always have to be valued and preserved. Copper vessels were a part of ancient Indian civilization; we can make it a part of our lives in present times and pass it on to generations that would come after us.

Storing Water In Copper Vessels. Not Just About Glasses Anymore!

There are so many ways of storing water in copper vessels to get the health benefits.

  • You can use a big copper pot to store water and take it out from the pot whenever you need for your regular drinking purpose. The big vessel can hold water for your requirement of 4 or 5 days requirement. This way you need not have to bother whether you kept the water in the previous night in a small vessel for your next day morning drink.
  • You can also store water in a jug or an Iyengar chombu which would hold minimum 2 tumblers of water that will serve you throughout the day. Adding few Tulasi leaves will further enhance the benefits of the water and imparts a pleasant aroma to the water.
  • You need not have to worry if you do not have a full copper vessel. There are traditional vessels available with the combination of copper and brass like Ganga Jamuna Lota, the brass representing the river Ganga and the copper representing Jamuna are equally good to store the water since you get the benefits of both the metals.

So what are you waiting for? Have something to ask? Feel free to ask and we will be happy to help.

Lovely Article by,

Srizna Nasme
Srizna Nasme

 

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Personal encounter with Antiques!

I have known YK Sir for little over a month now, we were introduced by a common friend and since then we have been exchanging mails and talking over the phone. I can say we have been bonding over antiques. We never met officially until last Saturday (26th December, 2015). After exchanging a couple of mails- planning our rendezvous, we finally met and ever since that meeting all I am doing is thinking and visualising about the items(rare, classic, vintage and old) that were displayed in his house. I went along with my friends who had come down from Bangalore for Christmas vacation and they can’t stop raving about what they witnessed. All of us were mesmerised and captivated by his signature collection of antiques. I felt like I was inside a museum and not in a house. Every nook and corner of his house has found a place to hold an antique and a rare item. Hats off to you sir! For your passion and commitment towards protecting the culture, heritage and art. You have been instrumental in telling and teaching history, art and literature to our generation. We will be ever grateful to you for starting this venture to make art and antiques available to all.

There are items in his house that we had never even imagined in our wildest dreams, trust me it actually existed, some of them were extensively used by people back then. Few of the displayed items are very old, I can say as old as the mountains; it dates back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century. I felt enlightened when he showed us the measuring cups used in India, during the imperial rule. These little cups were used to measure grains, rather than the weight, people those days focused on the volume of grains that the little cup would hold. The basic measure of volume capacity is Gidda. Gidda is defined as that much volume which holds 900 rice grains and which equates to 5.837 cubic inches. These cups used to be of different sizes and thus the measurement differed.

Old measuring cups in Brass steel and wood
Old measuring cups in Brass steel and wood

Yet another piece of artistry that caught my attention was the knot detangler. It belongs to the medieval time and it is made of brass again. First look at it, you will be sure it is a cutlery item, looks more or less like a two tooth fork but your guess is far from reality. This mystical looking object is an item of vanity, it is an older version of modern day hair brush. It was used by women back in the days to detangle the knots from their hair. It leaves you speechless, at least I was, I started wondering how could people hundreds of years without modern day technology make such wonderful objects.

Antique brass hair knot detangler
Antique brass hair knot detangler

Another item that left me awestruck is the way he has improvised these antiques and converted them to household items that can be readily used today. For example: his dining table is made in the most innovative way; The base of the table is a huge brass water storage pot, called gangalam that can stand upright. Brass pots are heavy and cannot be moved easily, so he has taken that simple logic and fixed a large glass sheet on the mouth of the pot, which would have been otherwise fitted with a lid, and the result is an excellent vintage and antique looking dining table. As glass is transparent it doesn’t hide or cover the intricacy of the pot; so while you are eating your meal you can also get a good glimpse of the pot below. Similarly his centre table is a smaller looking brass pot with a yet another glass sheet. He has successfully blended classic looking antique with glass. This gavehis house a perfect ambience of contemporary as well as an antique look.

Huge antiques brass gangalam that serves as a base of the dining table with a glass top
Huge antiques brass gangalam that serves as a base of the dining table with a glass top

There are hundreds of items that he has collected over the years belonging to different cultures, used by people from different religious backgrounds and used in different time periods. His collections range and vary in size; some are enormously huge where as others are miniatures. No matter how old they are, how big or small these artefacts are they tell a story and bring back the culture and heritage of people who lived in that era. We can only imagine how they lived and what kind of life style they followed, these antique and rare collectibles act as a medium or a pathway between us and the people who were part of our rich culture and history.

 

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Srizna Nasme

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Antique Coin Toning And Why You Should Know About It

A lot of antique collectors start off with an interest in old coins. Coin toning is a term used to describe the discolouring of coins which happens due to the oxygen in the air and its effects on the metal of the coin.The word of the day today for the budding numismatist is toning. I’m sure the antiquer in you is eager to figure out how toning applies to you and your love for antiquing.If you have a conversation with someone interested in coins, they will give you varied opinions about toning. For some of them, they think that toning is a good idea; it not only reflects age, but it also can add beauty to the coin itself. But some are of the opinion that all toning does it take away from what the coin is supposed to look like.

More than 400 years old antique coin with green colour toning
More than 400 years old antique coin with green color toning

A Bit More About Coin Toning

Basically, coin toning is a process in which the metal that the coin is made of corrodes over time. But before you start worrying about how it affects your collection, it happens really slowly over years and that too only if it’s not packed in vacuum. Natural toning in fact is very pretty in most cases as it changes colour gradually, but sometimes really old coins can turn very ugly as well. You want to keep an eye out for the coins you pick up or buy.

Things You Should Know

There are a few things here to consider though, if you do like the look of toned coins.There is natural toning that happens over the years, but there is also artificial toning that is done by experts in the field, they are known as coin doctors. So the real question here then becomes “What is the value of a toned coin?(be it artificial or natural toning).

When a coin starts tarnishing naturally, it can turn rather ugly, especially if it an old coin. An old coin definitely has more chances of being sold if it presented better after being cleaned and toned and made to look good, shiny and attractive. But on the flip side, considering numismatists are not crows and don’t look for shiny stuff only, there’s always a chance it won’t be popular with them. It comes down to which side of the fence you fall on, on this.

Should you find yourself on the tarnished side of this fence, considering you are a newbie here, what should you be looking for? Coins turn different colours when toned based on the metal that they are made of. Different metals turn different colours.

1912 year coin with black toning
1912 year coin with black toning

Silver coins – Silver, before it tarnishes to a complete dark black, can take on a very beautiful rainbow colours. Sterling silver also corrodes over time, but definitely presents with a completely different set of colours and tones. This difference is most noticeable in the way ancient British and American silver coins looks different even if they belong to the same age.

In the case of silver, the coins turn colours because of the metals that it has been alloyed with. Ancient silver coins are black because of the sulphides the metal reacts with. Sometimes in the case when they are alloyed with copper, they can turn green.

Gold coins – The same way, gold being one of the most inactive metals to make coins with, can end up with a reddish orange colour. By virtue of being gold, it turns dull before any other reactions appear on it.

Year 1908 copper coin with multi-colour toning
Year 1908 copper coin with multi-colour toning

Copper and aluminium coins – Copper can go from the typical orange-brown to a reddish colour to nearly all brown. And Aluminium, one of the most used metals for coin making around the world becomes a dull grey.

In all these cases, if it is a natural tone, it can add value to the coin.

Artificial Toning

The problem with artificially toning a coin is that when the instant colour is applied to a coin in whatever manner; the coin’s value automatically decreases. So, since recognizing a coin that is artificially toned is pretty hard to identify, you want to be careful about buying it for a lot of money.

There are several kinds of artificial toning:

  • Monster toning (wild toning)
  • Target toning (colours that change from the edge of the coin to the centre)
  • Toning in rainbow colours
  • Iridescent toning

This can sometimes make it make a higher grade based on what it looks like.

Figuring Out The Value Of A Coin

It is not very hard actually. All you really need is a coin catalogue to begin with. Most coin catalogues will not just give you information about the coin, but will even give you the value of the coin. Since they are subject to change every year, just make sure that you consult a current catalogue. ‘The Standard Catalogue of World Coins’ is a good place to start if you are an amateur.

If you have the time and the means to do it, try contacting a certified appraiser. An appraiser is someone who is trained to evaluate coins based on their condition. You can contact an appraiser by talking to your local coin dealer.

Last but not least, here is what a numismatist says about buying coins (both ancient and modern) for amateurs:

  • Buy them only from reputed dealers. That way, you won’t get cheated and won’t end up with fake coins.
  • Make sure you keep the bills and receipts and invoices related to the coins you buy along with their history.
  • If you are getting them imported, make sure they are declared and their history checks out.
Very old coin with beautiful bluish green toning
Very old coin with beautiful bluish green toning

 

Vineetha Rao Suravajjala
Vineetha Rao Suravajjala

Final Thoughts

Just because you see a coin does not mean you have to get it. Make sure you have a full appreciation of what the coin is before you get it.

You are all set then, you are good to go! Happy hunting!

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The Click And Whirr Of The Vintage Portable Typewriter

Now, the bibliophile in you is tap tapping away at a computer every night as you churn out your master pieces, all the while hoping that you had one of those fancy type writers. How do I know this, you ask me? That’s because I have the misfortune of having a brain that constantly obsesses over old and outdated things as well.

Now that you know about my obsession for good old things, it’s time to tell you about the one fascinating portable vintage type writer that I saw recently. This is not to say that I now have a vintage typewriter sitting in front of me, I’m learning all I can about everything I can really. In this process, I got to see the most wonderful specimen I am about to describe to you. I happened to visit the mini museum of antiques of Y Krishnamurthy and this beautiful piece caught my attention. Immediately the writer in me got into the details of this master portable type writer and now is this article in front of you.

It is a wonderful, light machine that weighs about 3 kgs and is very easy to carry. It comes with its own case that is a part of the body of the machine itself. How cool is that? Now it comes from somewhere around the mid-1960s and 70s when these were all the rage it seems. In fact, the antiquities expert who was showing it to me even cheekily said that they were the laptops of the era. Probably when they first came out, they would have been about 100 dollars, which when adjusted for inflation makes them super expensive in comparison to a laptop nowadays!

type writer

Being an item of age, it did have some basic minor blemishes and flaws. The paint under the space bar seems to have subbed off with age, as is with the right side and it shows obvious signs of use. Otherwise, I am assured that it is in perfect condition and has been cleaned and oiled and is ready for use. The case as well is in perfect condition with the clasps fitting in quite perfectly.

It was made in Japan, as it says on the machine itself, by the Welco Company, one of the more famous ones in the era, in the world of typewriters. Although it doesn’t really rank very high in the most popular list of typewriters, it was popular as the everyday man’s tool.

type-writer-1

Here are some of the basic facts about it:

Company: Welco Electronics CmbH, Japan. Made in Japan

Brand Name: Welco

Model Number: 280 DELUXE

Serial number: 81011648

Colour of the box: Black

Typewriter: Yellow body with black and red keys

typewriter-2

Start by understanding what the components of it are:

  • The knob to roll the papers
  • The platen to hold the papers
  • The bail to figure out where you want to start writing
  • The paper release to balance the paper
  • Carriage to put the whole thing together
  • Finally, you are ready to start typing.

A Basic Run-through

Here is how you use a typewriter. The first thing you get some good A4 sheets to type on. Step one is to insert the paper you are typing on over the platen. Make sure that you put two of them to protect your platen. Insert it correctly so it fits in fine. The next step is to roll the knob to ensure that the paper is in position for you to start typing. Remember that once you have typed something, there is no undoing it, so you want to decide what you want to put down on paper before you sit down to do this.

typewriter-3

When you finish typing all that is on your mind, turn the knob to release the paper and you are done. Pull it out with a flourish for now you have joined that elite group of people can write a whole page without needing to ‘ctrl+z’ every four seconds!

In case you do a mistake in spelling the word, the only way to correct it is by painting the word with white correction fluid (almost the colour of the white paper).The wrong text is masked with white correction fluid by painting the text with the white fluid .The paint has to be dried completely before you retype on the painted section. The white fluid is packed in a small bottle with the cap attached with a brush which is always immersed in the white fluid.

Mr. Krishnamurthy tells me that this wonderful piece was purchased by his brother-in-law V. Venkateswara Rao in London way back in 1970s. Mr. Venkateswara Rao was deputed to a railway project in Nigeria and in one of his visits via London he has purchased this item. Ever since, he has been profusely using for his correspondence including a post card and inland letters. After the advent of cell phones, the classical way of communication through letters has become outdated and so the type writer. Knowing his passion for antiques, Mr. Venkateswara Rao gifted the pretty machine to Mr. Krishnamurthy for his collection.

Let me tell you about how to buy a type writer if you had to ever wanted a vintage portable typewriter of your own.

typewriter-4

Here’s your very own three step guide to understanding vintage typewriters:

First: HOMEWORK. Go online, look around, and learn all that you need to know about type writers. One of these late 90’s sitcoms had a girl who thought that she typed everything out, and all she needed to do was hit print. Don’t be that girl! Understand completely what it is and what kinds exist. Doing a bit of research on what kind of a typewriter and what companies are out there, or were out there, will help you get a better understanding of what you want and how best you can procure it.

What I mean is this: You would think that QWERTY is because of typewriters, but there are some vintage ones that don’t have a QWERTY keyboard. Go figure!

Second: DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS. If you know what the parts of your typewriter are, you will know if the vintage typewriter you want will need repairs after you get it. Knowing how much damage is there will help you determine if you want it or no. Become familiar with the keys and the mechanics of it all as well.

Helpful tip: This way, you know if the person selling it to you is just making up names of parts to fool you!

Third: VALUE. When you finally decide which one you want and have an understanding of whether it suits your needs, make sure you get a good one. If you go online to get one, make sure that you do it from a place that is not likely to sell you a fake. Or if you can go to a dealer or an antique shop or even a pawn shop, they will have an idea of what the real deal looks like and what it is supposed to be. And if they know what the real deal is, they will know the real value of the object. So that is your best bet. If you are buying it from a garage sale, chances are, there’s a great story in there.

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6 Things To Keep In Mind Before You Go Antiquing

If you are thinking of going antiquing this week, you’ve come to the right place. Though, if you know enough of it to make a weekend of antiquing, you know where to begin. But for the uninitiated, here is where you begin, be glad!

Let me start by giving you a dictionary meaning of the word and let’s take it from there. The Oxford dictionary says that an antique is a collectable item of high value because of its age and quality. Well, that is what an antique essentially is. But if you talk to someone who actually collects them, they will tell you it is much more than just that. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I can tell you that there is a lot more to it; the anticipation when you know that you are going to see a new antique (an oxymoron, I know, but you know what I mean), learning the wonderful history behind it and finally that overwhelming joy when it is in your possession. It’s definitely more than just picking up a collectable with a high value due to its age and quality.

You are not here reading this post to hear me extol upon the joys of antiquing though. Getting back to the point, here are tips from some of the experts on antiques that we know who will help you get started on this wonderful new journey of antiques.

Always Do The Research

Tip 1: Start with the research. ALWAYS DO THE RESEARCH RIGHT. If you know you are going antiquing, make sure you know what you want and focus on that. Let’s say you want something that belongs to the Elizabethan era, know enough about it so you are not conned into buying something that is not from it. But also know that just because you like something from a certain era, you need to make sure you remember what you can. You can’t afford and then set your eye on something. Once you know what you want, it is easier to go looking for it.

Don't-be-late
Tip 2: DON’T BE LATE. Should you decide that you are going to the antique market or flea market this week, make sure you go there on time. The best stuff is there in the morning and the earlier you go, the quicker you get to the bargains. Isn’t that the whole plan here? The more the things you see, the more you end up with.

Talk-To-Your-Local-Experts

Tip 3: TALK TO YOUR LOCAL EXPERTS. While you may think that the internet, the all magical solution to all your problems will know everything about antiques, it will definitely help if you talk to some of the local experts on the subject. One of the biggest advantages of going to a local expert is that they will know about trustworthy dealers and the like, helping you network and understand the world of antiques as well. Most importantly, if you are on good terms with this expert you decide to talk to, he might even let you know when he spots one you want. Neat idea, right?

Haggle

Tip 4: HAGGLE. It would be quite counterproductive for you and your wallet if you walked into an antique store and bought the first interesting thing that you set your eyes on at the price that is on the object. In most places, the price that is on the item being sold leaves a little room to haggle. Be nice to yourself and ensure that you get what you need at a good price. Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price.

Learn-The-Lingo

Tip 5: LEARN THE LINGO. If you are in an antique store and you like something, make sure you are listening properly to what the dealer is saying to you. Understand how something is made, know the history and let the seller do some of the talking before you start talking/haggling. Know your stuff but let them talk. It makes a great idea for a better deal when bargaining.

Figure-Out-What-You-Want

Tip 6: FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT, USEFUL OR PRETTY. If you have decided that you are out to pick up something you want to display around the house as a pretty but useless thing, make sure that it is not chipped or broken or damaged before you buy it. And should you decide that you are out to get something that you are going to use on a regular basis, ensure that the object is not flawed and is fully functional before you purchase it. Take it for a test spin if the dealer allows it, and only when you are fully convinced that it is in the best condition it could be, make the deal.

Know-Thyself

Tip 7: KNOW THYSELF. Most important of all rules when you go antiquing anywhere is know what your budget is and make sure that you stick to it. It is not a good idea for anyone involved, especially you, if you exceed the budget you have set for yourself.

Once you get the basic rules pat down, antiquing can be as fun as you make it. To quote J R R Tolkien, “All that is gold does not glitter.” Be careful with what you pick up.

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Go Vintage With Your House This Winter!!!

How many times have you visited a place and got blown away by the ambiance and decor? Recently I visited a hotel in Udaipur and I was mesmerized with the way the hotel’s decor was done. There wasn’t a single item that belonged to today’s world, from the flower pot to the statutes, it all appeared classic and vintage. Every artifact looked like an antique in itself. Everything that was displayed in the hotel lobby, courtyard of the rooms screamed out culture and heritage. Most of the displayed items belonged to the seventeenth century and it was used by the royal family. As a guest I felt that kind of an ambiance can be recreated at home. I realized with a little bit of patience and a few old & vintage looking items we can rekindle the same magic that we normally see in pictures and magazines.After all home is where the heart is so turn your house into a home  by making a few changes. Here are some tips to revamp your house.

You can never go wrong with a vase, flowers or candles any day. But if you want to give a rustic look to your house replace the vase with some old and antique looking brass or copper pots. This look in your living room can be achieved by placing a large brass or copper pot on the center table. Fill the pot with water and drop some fresh rose or marigold petals. Once all the petals are buoyant you can make it look special by leaving a lighted floating candle.  Another option to instantly light up your house is to arrange fresh flowers in brass baskets. These baskets with handles used to be carried when people went to pluck flowers in the olden days. This would be a perfect blend of antiquity and contemporary decor. Simple yet elegant display of the pot with petals will surely give your living space a royal feel.

Rooh Gulab attar is made with RosesIMG_2384

If you are a plant lover and want to flaunt your indoor plants then replace your earthen flower pots with gleaming brass pots that are readily available in the market. You also have an option to mount the earthen flower pots on top of huge brass or copper vessels.A few brass flower pots inside the house will definitely be a head turner, it would not just be a center of attraction but also your house will get a classic and vintage feel.   It would make your visitors believe that you are a sure shot antique lover.

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Now let’s talk about wall decor, most of the times we end up hanging photo frames or paintings on the wall, but have you ever thought of making your wall look different. How about adding some antique twist to your wall? Many a times you must have come across carved frames but never paid attention and left it untouched at the shop, now remember next time you see one of those antique looking frames just grab it and get it home because there a lot of ways you can play with those frames to give your house an exuberance look. Simple way is to fix those frames on the wall in your bedroom or living room. You can insert your own picture and get it framed or use some classic looking paintings to add a touch of class.

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Remember we got to mix our personal taste and style while doing up the house. No matter how modern or sophisticated we are but when it comes to decorating our houses we always prefer having rare and antique looking objects. These rare collectibles add an aura to your house that can’t be neglected, it also emits positives vibes and brings back history and culture.

I prefer collecting antiques and artifacts while travelling and adding them to my personal collection. Each place we visit has its own historical and cultural significance and most of it is portrayed in the artifacts. Also the cost of these items in its native place might be a lot less compared to the same item being sold elsewhere hence it is a good idea to buy it.

Remember not to clutter the house with too many things, it’s better to have one or two rare and big objects in the right place so that it can grab all the attention of your visitors. Displaying too many small items might lose its essence and value and your antiques might get over shadowed.

 

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Antiques – A Class Apart!

Antiques are rare collectible items that have survived the test of time and lived a lineage. It is a matter of pride to own such mystic pieces of art belonging to an era where we didn’t even live. A piece of antique takes us back in time giving an insight into the culture, values and beliefs of people who lived in that particular time period. An antique item could be anything belonging to an era; it could be anything ranging from utensils to weapons to drawings to coins. The best part about any piece of antique in present day is that it holds a lot more value and small things like a copper coin from your great great grandfather could make you a millionaire.

Antique Brass Massage Oil Cups
Antique Brass Massage Oil Cups

Antiques in modern day have been associated with the rich and famous; the ones that are available in the market cost a fortune and rest are in the museums are government property. More often than not, antiques have been smuggled and traded far and wide. Having said that, it is not so difficult to own a piece of art either. There are people who become art and antique dealers as they genuinely are mesmerized by the beauty of it and there are others who collect these rare collectibles and sell them for money. No matter which category you fall into, you have to have a flair to find a jewel in a heap of rubble. People sell replicas in the name of antiques and you have to be watchful about that. Trust a person who has in-depth understanding of antiques, before laying your hands on that item which you want to purchase or acquire.

Articles that are termed antiques are very special. Every item has a story attached to it and it portrays the efficiency and craftsmanship of the person who made it. Some artifacts have inscriptions on them and it gives us an idea about the culture of a bygone era. If you are lucky, there might be a piece of art that holds a hidden message to be deciphered. In olden days, people used to encrypt messages on various objects, as there was no way to protect it with a password. Artifacts with inscription make these objects all the more valuable. By looking at the inscriptions, you can tell which era the object belonged to and how old could that particular object be. Some objects do not even have to be so old; even things that were used a couple of decades ago can be termed antique now. And the things that we use today might be rare and valuable a couple of generations after.

However, there are a certain things that have gone missing from the face of the earth as they are replaced by a more advanced version or due to the advancement in techn aboutology. For example, when I was a kid, I had seen brass oil lamps that my grandmother use to light before it got dark. These lamps needed kerosene and a wick to do the job; there was no electricity in the villages those days. That particular lamp has become a thing of the past now; you can’t even find them in normal shops. People who have been born and brought up in cities can’t even imagine how it would look like. I would love to own one of those lamps as a showpiece for the wall in my sitting room and narrate the story behind it as to how my grandparents used it as a means of light when their village had known nothing electricity.

Sambrani Incense Brass Pot
Sambrani Incense Brass Pot

Buying and selling of antiques these days is on a rising spree. People are realising the value and importance of an old artefact. An ancient piece of artefact can be a perfect decor item; it can up lift the interior of your house to another level altogether. You can be perceived as a historian or an art lover and you never know your house can soon turn into a gallery. A copper lamp belonging to the 1920s or a brass plate from the 1800s can be a perfect decorative item for your sitting room. Most of us might even own these things at home in our store rooms, something that we inherited or something that has been passed down the family lineage. It is time you showered some love and affection on those items, dust them and give them some shine or polish. Wide range of products are available in the market that can heighten the glam quotient of a brass or copper object. You will be surprised when you place these items on the shelves of your living room; it will redefine your living space and it would catch the attention of every guest who visits your house.
Buying antiques is a onetime investment; you can flaunt your taste in antiquity to your circle of friends and family members. You will have an option to pass it down your family tree or you can even sell it at a better price if you get bored with it. Antiques are like wine, they get better with age. I have decided that the next time I visit a new place I am going to pick up a rare item as a souvenir and start my own antique art gallery at home, and who knows it might even bring me a fortune someday.

Antique Copper Water Storage Pot
Antique Copper Water Storage Pot
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Bonding Over Antiques – An Interesting Association

Recently, I have added some more antiques to my collection, all thanks to a random visitor to my blog. How I acquired those antiques is a story in itself. Mr. Rajappan happened to stumble upon my blog by chance and shared that he had some antiques with him too. We exchanged messages and a couple of phone calls later; I was on my way to his hometown to take a look at his antique collection. I casually happened to mention to him that he should write about his love for antiques sometime. He actually did so and shared an article with me. I’m very happy to share his article with you. Hope you enjoy reading it.

Me alongside antiques that I passed on to Mr. Krishnamurthy

I have always been different since my childhood with respect to my likes, interests, hobbies etc., unlike the general choice of children to go for toy guns, chocolates etc. I liked to collect stamps, coins, and spent most of my time reading about Indian history and the glorious past of our great country.

My First Tryst With Antiques

 One day, while I was at home (fortunately), a scrap dealer had come for buying old utensils and other things.  My mother accidentally gave him an antique bronze artifact which was with our family since a few generations.  It was extremely beautiful and the workmanship and detail was amazing.  I immediately noticed it and prevented it up from going into the hands of the scrap dealer. To be frank, I wasn’t happy with the fact that my mother was about to give it away to a scrap dealer without realizing that it was an integral piece of our culture. When I asked her about it, she told me that it was due to some distraction in the kitchen that she failed to notice and promised me that she would be more alert while disposing things to the scrap dealer in the future. This seemed to pacify me a bit. Not knowing what happens when old items are discarded as scrap, I prodded a bit more and my mother then explained to me that such articles were generally smashed by the scrap dealer. We both realized that we almost lost a piece of history forever with which the memories of all the family members who might have used such articles were associated.

We got talking and my mother said that she herself liked old things because they were part of the family heritage almost all of the old items we had with us ware given to her by her parents as gifts at the time of wedding. She also said that such articles of bronze and brass were made with true skill and dedication by the artisans in the past. They had ample time to work with earnestness and were proud of their work and things were made to last forever unlike things of today which are mostly ‘use and throw’ type.

My father was listening to our conversation all the while and he told me that the gold, silver, brass, bronze and copper utensils had anti-bacterial properties and therefore our forefathers had true vision and foresight to use these in temples for preparing ‘naivedya’ offering to the deity.  Even the pious idols of the God were made with the alloy of  gold, silver, brass, bronze and copper known as ‘Panchaloha metals’ meaning five noble metals in different proportions.

Old Is Truly Gold

The metals of yesteryear had some medicinal properties as well as they stabilized the deficiencies in the body  as food was always prepared in brass vessels which were coated with tin to prevent the food from getting spoilt. Thus, there were very few health issues and people lived a healthy life till their death. But now there are so many new age materials like aluminum, teflon etc which we use and we don’t realise that we are actually speeding our way towards more and more health issues. Isn’t it an alarming fact that even children are developing diabetes, blood pressure, poor eyesight and lack of immunity nowadays?

My Association With YK Antiques

I was surfing the Internet one night and came across Shri Y. K. Murthy ji’s blog by chance. I was immediately attracted to it as iron would to a magnet.  I read the different articles posted on the website by Murthy ji and others and saw the pictures. I got in touch with him and let him know that I had many things similar to the collection he had. During our conversation, he divulged his idea of setting up a museum of these antique treasures for the sake of our future generations. His idea was that the modern generation shouldn’t forget to appreciate our great civilization and must carry the traditions forward.

The effort and passion of this noble gentleman gave me an idea to handover my long cherished family possessions in the form of  brass, bronze vessels, because I was damn sure that he is the right person to take utmost care of these things. Any other antique collector would have given me a lot of money, but my intention was not to make money, but to see it to it that these things are preserved and shown to as many people as possible who would want to see and know more about them.

I invited Murthy ji to come to my place at Malli, a small village near Srivilliputhur, which was kindly accepted by him and on meeting him at my residence, I came to know the genuine enthusiasm of this senior citizen which was like an innocent child.  He was eager to know more about everything I told him.  I escorted him to the temple and on his request accompanied him on this departure to Madurai as the weight of the things was too much. Even at this prime age, he can put any youth to shame with his energy and spirit.   He is a fitting example to all the youngsters and others who lose hope with life and take to alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling and other such vices and commit suicide, that life is worth living and to live it to it’s fullest and to be of  a guiding lamp is what personifies him.

Who Am I?

My name is Rajappan and my father’s name is Gopalan. I belong to the Vaishnava Sampradaya, colloquially known as Iyengar community.  We primarily worship only Vishnu and his avataras like Rama, Krishna and others along with Laxmi. Our community is spread all over the world and some of the noted personalities are K. Srikanth (Cricketer), Jayalalitha (C.M. of Tamil Nadu), Kamal Hassan (Actor), Vyjayanthimala (a very famous and popular actress of yesteryear) to name a few.

Our main centers of worship are Sri Rangam in Trichy, Tirupathi, Trivandrum, Guruvayur etc.

Ramanujacharya is our foremost acharya who was a great revolutionary in the field of religion during the 12th century.  He considered everyone irrespective of their caste as equal and also brought many so called untouchables to the Sri Vaishnava fold.  He is also an example of a selfless guide to his disciples.  You can read more about this great soul on the internet.

My Grandmother would often tell us that her forefathers belonged to a group of families who were instrumental in building the famous Venkateshwara temple at Tirupati and many generations served as temple priests there and they were respected and patronized by the King Thirumalai Nayakar and other Kings of that time.

A Little Bit About My Family

My father was a Central Government Employee and I did all my studies in Mumbai.

My mother was a housewife.  She was not much educated, but through her sheer grit and will-power she learnt many things in life and would even surprise highly educated people with her thoughts. Both my parents have passed away. May their souls rest in peace.

Coming to my siblings, we are three brothers. My elder and younger brothers live in Mumbai with their respective families.

From The Maddening Metro To My Roots

 After working for many years in Mumbai, at one point I just got fed up with the daily grind of the city life and realized that money is not the only thing which gives one happiness.  Money is important, but contentment and peace of mind are equally important if not more important.

So, I decided to move to my native village. Being spiritually awakened, I did not find it difficult to settle down and get myself adjusted to this change. I got married after I came to my native village and am blessed with a daughter.  My wife’s name is Priya and my daughter is Srinidhi.

Me and my wife Priya

I stay in an Agraharam (an exclusive Brahmins street in ancient times) village called Malli which is about 8 kilometres from Srivilliputhur, a temple town in Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu.  It is famous for the temple of Sri Andal, who is the incarnation of  Lakshmi and one of the 108 divya desams of Vaishnava Sampradaya. She is also the only female Alwar (saint) out of the 13 Alwars in the Vaishnava Sampradaya (Tradition). The Gopuram of this temple is the emblem of the Tamil Nadu Government. The temple is more than 1500 years old and the wooden chariot is the biggest in India.

There is a lot that I would like to share and maybe in the coming days or months I will write about different topics which are important.

If any of you are interested in acquiring genuine brass, bronze, painting artifacts please let me know. You can get my contact details from Shri Y. K. Murthy.