On a recent visit to a village in the deep south of India, Kumbakonam, I saw shops on the temple road glistening with various artefacts, idols, and other utilities in huge racks and this caught my attention, so I went into a shop because all the shops along the street seemed to deal with similar objects made with the same materials, and I inquired into what it was, and the shopkeeper in a fit of pride said that it is a brass idol of lord Vishnu and when I asked him the cost, he said with hopeful eyes “Eight Thousand Rupees only!” I was shocked at the price and asked him, if it is some gold because it had the colour of gold and the solidity of bronze, and the tinge of copper, in totality it looked like a museum displaying objects on the street. There was a very deep urge within me to photograph them, but the inner conscience told me that it would not be right on my part, just to capture them, so on taking a step forward, I asked a native man that what makes these stand apart and makes them look so magnificent, momentarily, I became curious because nothing else could grab my attention except these articles, so he showed and told me that, “it is our tradition to cook, serve, decorate, in summary, possessing these metals made artefacts and objects was not only a mark of dignity, and not merely for showcasing our status, but these are believed to bring forth good luck, especially, when these are made of panchalohas-gold, silver, copper, zinc and lead. From the time of Cholas, bronze has become our tradition, especially for making the idols of gods and goddesses, however, brass is now being used extensively in the making of showcase objects, and other cookware.” At this instance, I was astonished to know that this metal can be used for cooking purpose, and he showed the various boxes used for storing, bowls, spoons, mortar-pestle, etc.
After deep contemplation on my way back home, I thought that the day’s glassware and other cookware look decent and dignified, but they still lack this Indianness and the health benefits of these metals, and keeping aside these facts and feelings there is some happiness on getting to know about these metals and especially about the commendable workmanship. Perhaps, this is when, I realized that history remained intact because our ancients used metals which are strong, majestic, and beautiful, indeed we need to begin using them to stay strong and carry our tradition and customs as our legacy!
Beauty with strength is seen in our Indian vessels of brass, copper, and bronze.
These left me with a state of gratification on knowing about our heritage and at the same time, the desire to revive our conventions, because as a person of the millennium, I seldom used them and most of the present generation remains under the dark cloud of not having the appropriate knowledge about brass, copper, and bronze, except for the few proven health positives and their ethnic look, but on knowing the work and efforts that are put in by the artists and the workmen, it is way beyond description to appreciate their hard work, except to use and to promote the art and craft because moulding and hammering these metals is not an easy task, but personally, I started feeling pride within me, since I got to know about these and our ancient days!