With antiques in the house becoming the trend- when decorating the house, it is a great idea to carry the antiques into the bedroom as well. There are several ways you can do this, from something as bold as changing your bed to an old fashioned four poster bed to adding cozy reading corners to focus on particular objects. Here are few incredible ideas for creating stunning bedrooms by blending antiques into bed room décor.
If you go for particular bedroom idea, more often than not, it gets restricted to one kind of style, but if you are trying to introduce antiques into your bedroom, you don’t have to stick to anything, change it up as you want to. By making it an eclectic mix of things, you can create stunning bedrooms that not just add style but also have an element of coziness to them. Fusing the vintage with the modern is pretty easy because it allows you to make the bedroom rather luxurious too.
An instant addition to your bedroom to give it that olden charm is that set of mirrors that have been lying in the attic for the last fifty years. Mirrors that are set in heavy wrought iron with patterns and designs are exceptionally beautiful when you put them on the walls next to the headboard of the bed. A great way of introducing them into your room could be to put them behind the lamps on your side tables. They will reflect light and give your bedroom a very inviting warmth and makes it cozy in the night.
A great idea to use up all of those mirrors of different sizes and shapes is to cluster them all together, on a wall that does not have windows will reflect sunlight into the room in various angles brightening up the room quite a bit. Clustering things can also work with other nick-knacks as well, making them an instant collection. Dotting them with photo frames also add a personal touch to the whole display, drawing attention to them.
If you are creating a quiet corner to read in your bedroom, you can create the right ambience by displaying books and maps. Old school, dark wood tables with an antique table lamp or a globe that you may have can be a starting point, pair it off with a modern reading chair to finish it off. This is also a great way of using books for decorative purposes.
Just because it is the bedroom, a lot of antique enthusiasts don’t stick to brand new furniture or expensive décor. The edge of the room can be softened by mixing up and matching furniture from flea markets and antiques that could be re-purposed. A lot of times, antiques from different eras can pair up surprisingly well together as well. A very young reader of this blog, by way of holding on to her connection with her grandparents has paired a newly varnished light wood table with a chest re-purposed into a window seat, making a wonderful study table and reading corner.
The advantages of having a big bedroom cannot be ignored. Not only does it allow for more than just the bed to go into it, a lot more can be done to it decor-wise to give it a fancy olden style look. The easiest thing do, especially in a big room is to get a four poster bed. If the room is big enough to be able to hold it without seeming like it is the only thing in the room, there is a lot to work with. A four poster bed, with solid wooden beams is something that most of us have seen at our grandparents’ at some point or the other. The furniture in the rest of the room though will have to go with the bed, while that remains the focus of the room.
One of the most fun ways of decorating a bedroom is with a clever mix of the old and the new. And one of the best ways if doing this is to set off the different distinctive materials against each other. If you have one of those fancy old-fashioned antique beds with a very attractive head board, set it off with mirrors and glass in the right places, creating an illusion of light and air, drawing attention to the headboard itself.
Introducing a color scheme is very important is you are making a fusion of the trendy with the antique. It is important though, that the furniture is not the only the thing that has to match the objects in the room. The color of the surrounding walls, not necessarily all of one kind also have a grave impact on the manner in which it is painted. It all comes down here too to the warmth of the room, based on walls and the lights in it. The most popular colors remain browns and beige and off whites which make the object places draw attention to it, especially for bedrooms that have a fusion of old and new objects.
As parting words, before you decide what you want to do in a bedroom with the look of the antique, play around with ideas before you decide what exactly you want. If you keep it light and casual, it can be changed around often enough, adding to the variety of it. The best way to make things work is re-purposing what you already have for a brand new look. The conversion of ottomans that are not very comfortable into side stools and boxes into center tables is gaining popularity. These “extra” bits of furnishings can also be used to place other antiques as well, serving a dual purpose.
Balancing the comfort of the bedroom with the uniqueness of antiques is art, much like antiques themselves. There is no way of saying which the perfect percentage of antiques vs. other furnishings in a room is. Play along with what you want to do and have fun!
Note: The pictures shown in this articles are taken from the antiques collections of Y. KrishnaMurthy .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Attar is an Indian name for the traditional perfumes made in India by ancient technique of distillation using copper vessels.This beautifully shaped copper vessel called ‘Bhapka’ is used in the traditional method of distillation of attar. The very mention of attar gives a romantic feeling of lingering fragrance that is unique to Indian culture. Mughal emperors, Indian Maharajas, their queens and harems, the noble families of bygone era, all used delicately scented traditional attars for lifting their souls to new levels of ecstasy and make themselves more inviting. Each royalty patronised their own favourite attar and their arrival was significantly felt by the kind of attar associated with them and the gentle perfumed wind heralded their arrival into the royal durbars, courts and to their ladies.
The traditional attars are made with rare and exotic variety of flowers, herbs, roots and spices. The base oil for the attar is Sandalwood oil. It has the inherent quality of absorbing the scents of the other oils by subsiding its own scent.
The Dwindling Effect
The once famous and most adored traditional attars of Hindustan are no more available in their sublime purity. The pervading adulteration has also penetrated into these traditional scents. The reasons could be the rarity and the high cost of sandalwood oil, insensitivity to fine taste and quality and most importantly the greed to make money by dubious methods.
The competition from the poor chemically made scents (called foreign scents) that invaded the Indian markets with their abundant side-effects could be one of the reasons for the lack of buyers for the authentic, pure agro-based and environment friendly (eco-friendly) attars. The so called sprays of foreign scents that produce more gas and side-effects than perfume with their low price have virtually killed the traditional attars that gave the divine and delicate fragrances to the connoisseurs.
A Memory from My Childhood
When I was about 12 or 13, there was an attar vendor whose name was Sayeeb. He used to come to our house often and sell a variety of attars. He was a middle aged Muslim man, dressed in a traditional white kurta and pyjama along with a turban with its tail end hanging till his hips. He sported a pepper-salt beard, had an assorted colored beads necklace hanging around his neck and walked barefoot. He carried a beautiful wooden box with brass trims, lined inside with maroon coloured mukhmal (velvet) cloth containing different bottles of attar. Each bottle was securely placed in the square slots resembling pigeon holes. The box was hung on his shoulder with the help of a thick cotton tape secured to the brass handles of the box.
Whenever he used to visit our house, he used to unlock the box and open it for us to have a glimpse of the beautiful bottles with divine fragrances. He would ask us to stretch our hands and then would dab tiny amount of attar on the back of our palms and ask us to experience the fragrance. Once we were convinced and our selection made, he would dexterously pour the ordered quantity into our tiny glass bottles taken out from our own little attar daan. Attar daan is a small box with brass trims having slots inside to place each attar bottle which has a mini lock. Locking the attar daan was very much required since the costly and rare attars had to be protected from misuse. The attar daan was always kept in a cupboard with other valuable items like silk sarees, gold ornaments, silver items etc.
The Making Of Traditional Attar
The process of making traditional attars takes a minimum of ten days.The flowers are soaked in water and heated in large copper pots . The automatic vapours are then transferred to a receptacle copper vessel through bamboo pipes containing pure Sandalwood oil which is the base oil for attar. Attar is also made from aromatic spices, herbs, roots etc.
The distillation unit consists of three parts.
Part one is a large copper vessel called ‘Deg’ in which water and fragrant flowers to be distilled are placed.
Part two is a copper vessel with a large belly and narrow long neck called ‘Bhapka’. Bhapka means ‘steam’ in Hindi language and that is why the vessel that captures the fragrance filled steam from the deg is called bhapka.
Part three is a ‘Chonga’, a hallow bamboo pipe that connects the deg and bhapka. The bamboo pipe is wrapped with rope made from local grasses and serves as an insulator to the pipe.
The simple distillation unit extracts the inherent delicate essence of the fragrant flower. The deg is filled with pure water and then the fresh fragrant flowers are placed inside it. Its lid is then sealed by a clay ribbon of approximately three inches and tightly held by a spring called ‘Kamani’ which makes a vapor tight sealing system between the deg and its lid.
There will be a hole on the lid to insert a bamboo pipe to extract the vapors from the deg. The receiving copper vessel i.e. bhapka is filled with pure sandalwood oil. Bamboo pipe is inserted into its mouth and sealed with clay and cotton. The sealed bhapka with the bamboo pipe is lowered and allowed to settle down into the waters of a cooling tank known as ‘gachchi’ that eventually converts the sweet vapors into molecules of fragrant attar.
The other end of the bamboo pipe is inserted into the hole in the lid of the deg and sealed tightly by the combination of cotton and clay. The deg containing flowers in water is heated with wood or cow-dung fire and the fragrant vapors produced rise up from the deg and pass through the bamboo pipes into the bhapka immersed in the cooling tank. The vapors get condensed in the bhapka and after distillation the water and oil get separated and the aromatic oil molecules get absorbed by the sandalwood oil. Then the water is taken off or decanted through the hole in the bhapka and mixed with the water in the deg for the next process of distillation.
The distillation process is repeated several times for 15 days till the sandalwood oil in the bhapka is fully saturated and achieves the desired fragrant perfume of that flower. The sandalwood oil completely gives up its own fragrance and acquires the fragrance of the flower that is used in distillation process.
A Little Something about the Marvellous Antique Bhapka
This bhapka is handmade with copper metal sheet of thick gauge. You will observe beautiful hammer marks throughout its body. It was initially made into few parts and later joined together to make a perfectly shaped bhapka with a nice big belly and a neat long neck. At a glance, it gives an impression of a huge copper flower vase made perfectly. This is how I looked at it when I first saw it in the warehouse of an antique dealer in Ahmedabad way back in the year 1986. During one of my usual rounds to antique shops in Ahmedabad, I saw this odd looking copper vessel and I inquired about it with the shop owner. He had no idea about it. I liked its shape and the pattern of the hammer marks. I also saw that there were inscriptions on the body and I was confident that I could decode the inscriptions and find out the true nature and purpose for which it was made. I struck a bargain and brought it along with me to Mumbai where I used to stay back then. After cleaning, it was so beautiful and shiny with pinkish brown color. Its flower vase type of shape gave me an idea that it would make an exquisite floor lamp base. I bought a large size lamp shade made out of gold color silk cloth and fixed it on the top of its long neck. It was perfect! Later it became a center of attraction in our drawing room and conversation piece when guests would arrive.
The old classic literature on attars say that the floral variety that are primarily used for making attar are rose, jasmine, bele, molesari, champa and tuberose. Coming to root variety, vetiver and ginger are mainly used for making attar. Barks of trees like cinnamon, sandalwood and aloe bark are also used. Musk, ambergris (a wax-like substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, found floating in tropical seas and used in perfume manufacture) and myrrh (a fragrant gum resin obtained from certain trees) are also used.
For all these ingredients, sandalwood oil is used as the base oil since the natural fragrance of the oil vanishes and it imbibes the aroma of the flower.
The Right Way To Apply Attar
It is mentioned in our ancient texts as to which part of the body should be anointed with attar for the maximum benefits in terms of aroma and health to the body and mind. Attars are applied on ‘pulse points’ which emanate the aroma most effectively. The blood vessels are nearest to the skin at the pulse points giving off much heat thus serving as mini pumps of fragrance. The warmth generated from the pulse points diffuses the aroma of the attar into the air. The continuous diffusion function of the body helps the wearer to enjoy the aroma through the day.
The sensitive pulse points are located behind the ears, between the breasts, on the neck and on the ankles, elbows and knees. Attar is to be applied on the heart centre, over the points of wrist pulse, back portion of the ears and on the subtle energetic pathways called marma points known as ajna or sthapani on the middle of forehead area. These points are conducive for the aromatic oils and they can be fully absorbed into the skin and the release of fragrance is gentle and subtle around the body. These aromatic attars regulate the breathing rhythm, stabilize the heartbeat, soothe the nervous system and calm the brain. These gentle aromatic attars lift your spirits to a higher level of consciousness, regulate prana and circulate the vital energy throughout.
A Brief About Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood oil is distilled from the matured tree heartwood and the roots of the tree. The oil is extracted by water or steam distillation method. A mature sandalwood tree yields up to 60 kilograms of perfumed oil. Most of the oil produced is used by the perfume and toiletries industry. The world famous Sandalwood soap is manufactured from the oil extracted from the trees grown in the forests of Karnataka around Mysore.
The advantage with perfume manufacturing using the distillation process is that the fragrance improves with the age of attar. The sandalwood oil is a fantastic fixative and an excellent preservative. If the attars are carefully preserved,the quality improves with age like in a vintage wine.
An Interesting Anecdote About Mysore Sandal Soap
There is a very interesting story on how the Mysore Sandal Soap came into existence. During the British rule in India, the Maharaja of Mysore used to harvest the sandalwood oil and export the same to England. It so happened that for some reason or the other, one shipment of sandalwood oil was rejected and the Maharaja did not know what to do with such huge precious cargo. One of his advisers advised the Maharaja to use the aromatic oil in his own production of soaps. The Maharaja immediately commissioned a soap-making plant to manufacture high class sandalwood soaps. Thus, the Maharaja stopped all export of sandalwood oil and the produce was used in the production of sandalwood soaps and in other related perfumery and toiletries industry. Till India attained independence, the Maharaja Soap factory was run by the Kingdom of Mysore.
You never must have given a thought about how attar is made till now. But behind it is an elaborate process and the vessels used were made for a purpose. With the advent of technology, traditional methods are slowly taking a hit along with all things associated with it. By now I guess you know that every time you apply a drop of attar, thousands of flowers go into making the perfume along with the hard manual labor of artisans who take it upon themselves to keep alive the tradition of the dwindling craft of making attar. The attar is natural and made from nature’s most delicate creation known as flowers and aromatic produce. It is gentle on the skin and has no side effects. It is absolutely divine!
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Thondi is a copper or brass pot that is used for drawing water from the well. The Thondi shown in the picture is hand made out of copper. Few decades ago when the expanding cities and towns did not have running water through pipe lines and there were no overhead water tanks to collect water by opening few valves., the main source for collecting water are wells.To collect and store water,people were using various vesselsmade out of mostly clay, brass and copper. They used to have different sizes and shapes for various utility functions of fetching and storing water. In order to stand the rugged usage of drawing water from the well, Thondi is invariably made out of copper or brass. The Thondi is used only by the orthodox Brahmins in south India who would use it from the dedicated wells meant to be used only by orthodox Brahmins.
In order to draw water from the well, one end of the rope is tied to the narrow neck of the Thondi, and lowered into the water and with dexterous movements of the rope with the hand the Thondi is coaxed to get immersed in the water. The water filled Thondi is pulled out using the other end of the rope. The water filled Thondi is then carried home by women by tucking one side of the Thondi between the hip and waist and the other side by the firm grip of the arm around the body. There is to be separate timings for men and women to draw water. The men chant their prayers while drawing the water and other holy chanting like Mantrapushpam. The men used to carry the Thondi on their head held in position by the hands or on shoulder with one arm gripping the Thondi. Thondi is a Tamil word and in Telugu it is known as Koojabindi. “Todi” in Tamil means drawing water. The vessel used for Todi is called Thondi.
This particular copper Thondi shown in the picture has a story.That was the year 1948.The backdrop is Kotthurpuram suburb near Adyar in Madras,the present day Chennai. My father- in-law Machiraju Bhaskar Rao garu got a job as Sub-Divisional officer in PWD (Public Works Department) of Madras State, which included the present day state of Andhra Pradesh also. My father-law- is a core Andhra Brahmin from konaseema area of Andhra Pradesh. With the appointment orders in hand ,he shifted to Madras, with his wife, 3 kids and his orthodox mother, Pallammagaru, and taken a rented house in Kotthurpuram. The Kotthurpuram those days is a typical Brahmin Agraharam where most of the staunch Tamil Brahmins live. Kotthurpuram did not have Madras corporation supply of piped water and the locals depend on the wells for water. Kotthurpuram used to have common wells one for each group of 5 or 6 houses. The families draw the water from the wells and carry them to store in their home in large brass vessels. There used to be dedicated wells for Brahmin community where the water is allowed to draw by using Thondi only. The buckets are considered unhygienic and were not allowed to use for drawing water. Washing and cleaning the vessels are not allowed at these wells. The other wells dedicated to other communities water can be drawn bysteel buckets or by using other devices. Washing cloths and cleaning vessels are also allowed at these wells.The orthodox Brahmin families patronise a particular well and will not allow other communities to draw water for the same well. There is also the dictum that the people should use only Thondi for drawing water and other devices like buckets are not allowed.
On the day of arrival to Kotthurpuram, Pallammagaru went to the community well meant for orthodox Brahmins equipped with a bucket and a rope made out of dry coconut husk. She was a widow and as per the custom in those days she had a shaven head and used to wear a plain white cotton sari covering her shaved head and tucked in the two earlobes. The Brahmin community welcomed the orthodox looking new lady in to their community but refused to allow her to draw water with the bucket. Pallammagaru returned home and insisted that my father-in-law to get her a copper Thondi immediately. My father-in-law applied for a half a day leave and rushed to the market and returned with this beautifully looking copper Thondi. This Thondi is used there after by pallammagaru to fetch MadiNeellu(the water fetched after observing thorough hygiene like taking head bath and wearing clothes that are washed and untouched by others). MadiNeellu are used for pooja purpose and for cooking.I was told that Pallammagaru once corrected the Mantrapushpam recital of a Tamil Brahmine and the well community were surprised at the knowledge of the Telugu widow and there after her image and prestige in the community got elevated. For the general purpose water, Pallammagaru used to draw the water from the well and Satyavathigaru used to carry the water to the house. The Thondi is 66 years old. After Pallammagaru demise, the Thondi has come into the custody of my mother-in-law, Machiraju Satyavathi garu and after her passing away in the year 1993,this lovely Thondi was inherited by my wife, Ramana and is there in our house ever since.Now it is a proud piece of antique in my collection.
The design of the Thondi is unique. It has a large belly to hold the water and a narrow neck to regulate out flow of water. The neck flares up to a wide mouth with a rim around the mouth. The narrow neck is also useful to tie the rope around the neck and the slippage is prevented by the belly at one side and the wide mouth opening on the other side. The rounded belly shape snuggly fits into the curve of the female waist. The whole Thondi is handmade and the joints are made so beautiful to look like a design. It has a curvy bottom so that it can be smoothly tilted to pour water into a tumbler for drinking purpose. The entire Thondi is conveniently designed to draw water, carry water and to store water. A real multipurpose grand vessel.
The dug well: The hand dug wells are known to have existed since ancient times.Wells are the basic source of water in most of the towns and villages. Most of the wealthy families have their own private wells and the others use the community wells. Most of these wells are hand dug wells.to dig a well, soil is excavated in round shape like a tunnel into the earth till the water source is found and further 6to 7 feet deep down from the water table.The entire surface of the tunnel will be lined with stones or bricks so that the soil around the tunnel do not slip into the water. After invention of cement,it became a practice to line the tunnel with pre-casted well rings made out of cement which are lowered into the well one over the other. The lining will be extended above the surface up to 3o 4 feet to form a wall around the well to prevent animals and humans from falling into the well by accident.This will also prevents from surrounding water entering the well from the land around. Some of the hand dug wells have a pulley system to draw water with comfort.
The step wells: Step wells are large intricately designed structures with convenient steps from the upper level of the ground sloping down till the level of the water body. These are architectural marvels.People with water pots can step down till the water source and climb back with the water.The step wells are more prevalent in the western part of Indian states like Gujarat and Rajastan. I have also seen a beautiful step well in Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna and also in the heritage site of Hampi, the once upon capital of the great Vijayanagara empire. In summer hot days, people go and sit near the water body on the steps for cool ambience. Step wells are centres for social gathering where people meet in the evenings and exchange local news and gossip. The step wells were known to have existed since Neolithic period. There are step wells discovered in Cyprus belonging to 7,500 BC andin Israel belonging to 6,500 BC.
For further reading on copper pots for water please click on the below link:
The primitive man drank his water from the flowing rivers and water tanks by cupping his hands to form a tumbler to drink. Later, he started using leaves by rolling them like a tumbler. Subsequently, with the invention of the cutting tool, he started using the hollow bamboo cut to size to form a tumbler. With progress of civilization, he started making earthen pots to store water and small pots to drink water. With the invention of metals like copper and brass, he started making tumblers with these metals to drink and carry water. Next, with the invention of glass blowing technique, man started making different varieties of tumblers with glass material not only for drinking water but also for the purpose of drinking wine, fruit juices, milk and other liquid foods.
The civilized man invented a special variety of glass for decorative and aesthetic appeal and one such variety of glass is known as milk glass. I am fortunate enough to collect one drinking tumbler made out of milk glass. I am happy to introduce this beautiful vintage milk glass tumbler to you and I hope you will admire its bewitching beauty as much as I do.
The Story of the Milk-glass Tumbler
This beautiful milk glass tumbler was purchased by my father in the year 1930. Yanam is a French colony which is around 40 kilometers from our village Someswaram in East Godavari district of present Andhra Pradesh. The rest of Andhra Pradesh used to be under British rule. In order to expand their business, the French people in India used to import lot of goods into Yanam and sell them in the rest of the British India. Many women street vendors used to smuggle interesting items into nearby villages in cane baskets carrying them on their head. Such street vendors used to come to our village also and my father purchased this French made milk glass tumbler from such vendors. In those days, there were no shopping malls to purchase the items you want. You had to purchase items that are available to you. Otherwise you had to buy the similar British goods from the shops in cities like Madras (present Chennai), Bombay (Present Mumbai) or from Calcutta (present Kolkata) or Delhi.
This precious milk glass tumbler used to be kept is a locked cup board in our house. Whenever important guests came home, we used to take out the glass from the cupboard and serve cool water in this glass. We also had coconut trees in our house. In summer, we used to drink tender coconut water from this glass which used to be a very pleasant experience. It used to be a wonder in our village to have glass like this. When our family shifted from our village owing to the job I took up, this particular glass was carried by my mother in her suitcase along with her clothes for safe transportation. Subsequently, I have shifted into around 50 houses on my various assignments, and every time my mother used to take charge of this delicate glass for safe transportation to our new locations. Finally, we settled in Hyderabad since the last 15 years and now this glass is the part of my collection at Hyderabad.
This charming vintage milk glass tumbler is 5 inches tall,3 inches in diameter at the rim and 2 inches in diameter at the bottom.
We have another important event connected to Yanam. My mother and father got married in Yanam. In those days, it was a tradition and social norm to marry the girls before they attained puberty. The average age for a girl to attain puberty is around 13 years and they had to be married before turning 13. But this was against the law in those days. In British India, there used to be a law called “Sarada Act” which stated that girls should be married only after they attain the age of 18 years. Getting the girls married before they turned 18 was punishable under the law. The “Sarada Act” was against the social custom and the parents of the girls used to escape this law by celebrating the girl’s marriage in Yanam which was under French law and British “Sarada Act” was not applicable there. My maternal grandfather, in his orthodox approach, celebrated my mother’s marriage before she turned 12 at Yanam.
The HistoryOf Glass
Glass was known to Stone Age man as early as 9,000 years who made tools such as cutting tools and spear heads with natural glass. Archaeologists have found that since 3,500 BC in the Bronze Age, ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt were using man-made glass for coating stone beads for decorative purpose. The first hollow glass resembling a tumbler was made in 1500 BC by covering a layer of molten glass on a sand base model.
The major breakthrough happened in glass making with the invention of glass blowing around 1st century BC in Babylon. Glass manufacturing and usage has taken interesting strides throughout human civilization, particularly influenced by cultures of China, Africa and Europe.
How natural glass is formed?
Natural glass is formed when natural events that produce super high degree of temperature melt certain kinds of rocks to form a sheet of liquid glass.When the liquid glass is cooled down, a hard sheet of glass is formed. During volcanic eruption when hot lava (liquid rock) is flown into cool water beds like tanks or rivers, a shiny black natural glass is formed. Similarly, when lightning strikes on earth or a meteorite collides with earth, super high temperatures are generated due to high impact. Such high temperatures melt certain varieties of rocks that produce natural glass.
Characteristics of Glass
Glass material is inorganic and solid in nature, clear or translucent.It is brittle and can withstand sun, rain and wind. Glass is utilized for making utensils, windows, bottles and mirrors and other kinds of items.
Discovery of Man-made Glass
Man has discovered a strange stone which we call now as glass in the ashes of a fire thousands of years before. This might have happened by accident. The Roman historian Pliny wrote in A.D. 77 that Phoenician sailors placed “stones of soda ash” into a fire (presumably to rest their posts on) on a sandy beach. They later found a “hard smooth stone” in the ashes. That’s one possible scenario, given that sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate), and heat are all ingredients for making glass.
What is milk glass?
Milk glass got its name from its milky white color.Milk glass is a translucent or opaque glass with milky color that can be pressed or blown into a variety of shapes. These varieties include decorative lamps, drinking glasses, dinnerware, costume jewelry and vases .The articles made with milk glass are known for their beauty and grace in design. Milk glass items were first made in the 16th century in Venice .These can also be made in colors like yellow, blue, brown, black and pink. Out of all these colors, the white milky color is the most popular. The milk glass is originally called “opal glass” because it is opaque in nature. In the later years, it came to be called as milk glass basing on its white milky color. To get this beautiful opaque milky white color, opacifiers like bone ash or tin dioxide are added to the regular glass. These milk glass items make a wonderful collection items.World over, the lovers of milk glass collect original antiques or replicas of popular collectable items.
Ancient Indian civilization has passed on through generations to modern times a simple cradle made out of cloth in which the babies love to sleep. This cloth cradle is basically a cloth hammock created from a cotton cloth, from a simple cotton dhoti or a sari tied to a hook and hung from the ceiling to a provision made for this purpose. The baby relates the swinging movements of the cradle with the gentle swinging movements he experienced while he was in the cosy comfort of the mother’s womb corresponding to the mother’s movements. Any baby will be blissfully happy to sleeping in the cloth cradle.
The only inconvenience in cotton hanging type cradle is putting the baby inside the cradle and taking the baby out of the cradle. This is because the cradle has no sufficient opening for placing and taking out the baby since both the sides of the cloth cradle hang down without any gap in-between them. The mother has to hold the baby in hands and create an opening using her elbows which is very inconvenient. To surmount this problem, some people use a cradle separator to create a wide gap in between the two sides so that the baby can be put in and put out of the cradle conveniently. I have collected a beautiful cradle separator with excellent design which I love to present it to you.
The design of the Antique Cradle Separator
I can never imagine that a mundane thing like a cradle separator can be so artistic.This only shows that art is an integral part of our daily life some time back and may be it is the reason our ancestors lived a holistic happy life compared to the present generation whose houses and utilities have mere functional value and do not have art or aesthetics value.
The cradle separator is made with a single block of wood with beautiful design. Its length is 28 inches, width is 5 inches and depth is ¾ inches. The design of the separator appears to have three parts. The two end parts are circular in shape with triangular projections. These circular end pieces have the holes through which the cloth is passed through for making the cradle. The middle part of the separator has woven design forming 18 holes and the entire design is hand carved. The carvings are done in such a way that it looks as though it is woven with 3 strands of flexible wood. It looks very fluid .There is a small square hole at one end of the plank and this hole is meant for hanging this plank to a nail when not in use. The width of each strand is ¾ inch. This separator also is used to hang some colourful items for the entertainment of the baby using the 18 holes design.
My experience with the Cotton Cradle
I was told that my mother kept me in a cotton hanging cradle when I was a baby in my maternal grandmother’s house at Korumilli located on the banks of river Godavari in east Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, where I was born. It is a tradition and a common practice to put the babies in a hanging cradle during my younger days. I, myself have seen the colourful cradles hanging in the halls of our neighbours and relatives houses who had babies. I have grown in a cradle culture. When my mother moved over to my Paternal grandfather’s house at Someswaram some 30 kilometres from Korumilli, my grandfather arranged a wooden cradle hung with 4 iron chains from the wooden beam of our house for my sleeping. I still have those lovely iron chains in my collection though we lost the cradle, I don’t know how.
Later, when I was going to school riding a bicycle I used to see the ladies who were working in the rice fields on either sides of the road used to have a cotton cradle of color full cloth and hang it to the branch of the nearby tree or to the beam of the cattle shed in which their babies are laid to sleep while they work in the rice fields. They would come periodically to the cradle, take out the baby, feed the baby with their breast milk and lay the baby back into the cosy cradle. I have never seen or heard of an accident happening by way of baby falling from a cotton cradle and it is absolutely safe. In fact there are chances of an accident happening when babies are kept on a flat wooden cradle or on a sleeping cot with cushions around falling down by accident. The best way to silence a crying baby is to put him in the cotton cradle and give it few mild rocking movements. I bet the baby will sleep in minutes provided the baby’s belly is full. A month’s old baby needs only two things, milk and the cosy comfort of a cotton hanging cradle.
The cotton fabric cradle is called Battauyyala in Telugu. This is known as Tuniunjalin Tamil. It is known in the northern part of India as Palna, Dhooli, Jhoola and Dhola in Bengali.
What is the secret of the survival of Cloth Cradle through generations?
The secret is babies love to be rocked to sleep. The rocking movement is the extension of their cosy life they had in the mother’s womb and the cradle movements they enjoyed whenever the mother walked around. They relate the rocking movements of the cradle with the movements they experienced while in the security and safety of the mother’s womb. Thus the babies love the rhythm of the gentle movements of the cotton cloth cradle. Further when the baby is placed in the cloth cradle, the wait of the baby pulls the cloth around the baby creating a snug womb like atmosphere around him. Whenever the baby makes a movement, the cradle also swings inducing the baby back to sleep.
Some people say that sleeping in a cotton cradle will promote the baby’s head to develop into a beautiful, rounded shape as he would not be sleeping on a flat mattress. It is hygienic too. When the baby passes the urine, it falls down from the thin cotton cloth and dries up fast keeping the baby dry. Generations of mothers over centuries felt good about the benefits of cotton hanging cradle and they passed on the simple technique to their next generations. Even now it is the most desirable way of putting the baby to sleep in several houses in towns and villages of India.
Precautions to be taken for Cotton Cradle
The cloth cradles are very convenient to the mother, comfortable to the baby, easy to maintain, space saving and are economical provided some precautions are taken while using the same. The baby has to be positioned in the cradle with his back resting on the cradle. The baby should not be kept with the face down. Keep the bottom side of the cradle as low as possible towards the ground. Take enough precaution to ensure the baby does not turn to the sides or to the stomach. Watch the weight of the baby and ensure the quality of the cloth to be used taking into consideration the growing weight of the baby. Ensure that the cloth cradle is properly hooked so that there is no chance of it falling down.
How I got this Antique Cradle Separator
I got this wonderful Antique Cradle Separator from an antique dealer in Chettinadu, a region in Tamil Nadu where the prosperous Chettiar community live. Basically they are business people particularly in banking and education sectors. They are called natukotaichettiars since they have houses as big as a fortress. They live a very traditional life with the art surrounding their magnificent houses including artistic household items like this beautifully carved cradle separator. I have purchased this in the year 1972 from Karaikudi city of Chettinadu. It is with me since 40 years. I wonder for how many cradles it was used as a separator and who are the babies that slept in those cotton hanging cradles and how many eminent personalities this cradle has rocked when they were babies.