The words ‘tambe ka bartan’ sounds very nostalgic as it takes us back to the time our grandma stored water in them. Do you remember the time when our grandmothers cooked hot meals in ‘peetal ke bartan’ that were so heavy that she would call you to help her pick them up? Have you ever wondered who made these beautifully hammered cookware that have been a part of our legacy for generations? Generations have handcrafted various forms of art on brass (Pittal), copper (Tamba) and bronze (Kansa) with a distinctive cultural and historical identity underpinning their skill.
Here is a story about the artisans of P-Tal who belong to the Jandiala Guru region of Punjab. They are the heroes of these beautifully crafted products that take us back in time and also ground us to the present.
A long time ago, Maharaja Ranjit Singh saw the need for a resurgence of arts and crafts in his new empire, and he thought Amritsar would be the perfect place for artists to set up a camp. He encouraged skilled metal crafters from Kashmir to settle in the heart of his kingdom in Punjab which led to the establishment of the crafts colony at Jandiala Guru. The craft of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru represents the traditional technique of manufacturing brass and copper utensils in Punjab.
A proud community of individuals, spend their days hammering copper and brass sheets into vessels. They are unaware of the potential their craft holds. The community which was once characterised by happy faces, cheerful identities and beautiful craft have now been reduced to a group of old men suffering from hearing, heart and lung problems trying to feed their families. Yet, the community is spread across the country and is still carrying on the beautiful craft of handmade utensils.
Out of the original 500 families at the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a mere 30 craftsmen remain carrying on the legacy in Jandiala Guru, Punjab, the heart of the Thathera community. The younger thathiars have taken up urban jobs to sustain their families, but their skills remain intact and waiting for an opportunity.
One of our thatheras is Manohar Lal Ji. If it was not for him, we would have never been able to start this journey of P-TAL.
In 2018, he was the only one from the entire village who believed in P-Tal’s initiative and had faith in the revival of this craft, not even his son was ready to believe that this old-age legacy could be revived again. He has heard the sound of the hammer since he can remember. Being a Thathera is in his culture, his tradition. He truly is the torch-bearer of Karigar ki Virasat (Legacy of Artisans). The pride for his craft legacy and the skill he possesses makes him one of our master artisans.
Just like Manohar Lal Ji’s trust and resilience, Amrit Lal Ji wanted to preserve his identity as a Thathera. Taking immense pride in the work he does, Amrit Lal Ji has truly made every single Thathera in Jandiala Guru believe that their story and their heritage will reach every household in India!
Hari Krishan Suri Ji is our ‘copper mastermind’, with a knack for experimenting and exploring, he is ever-ready to design new products in copper. His creation of a copper water dispenser is one of our hot-selling products. His products are not just pieces of craft, they are his identity.
When you begin to revive a craft there is an initial product development and then the demand follows, and when there is a kind of demand that you think you can never meet, you suddenly realise there is still so much untapped potential.
Harwinder Singh Ji’s story is exactly like that. While working with P-tal he realised that he is again one of those who is made to explore the untapped potential and hence is now spearheading the work of craft revival with several other artisans working with him in his workshop.
Our artisans are the foundation of P-Tal. Their belief and trust in our vision have helped us to grow as a brand. Without them, we would lose the beauty and essence we are so focused on reviving. They made us just like we encouraged them to revive their heritage.
Explore and Shop from our Collection of Brass, Copper and Kansa Items:
Our Online Store: www.ptal.in
Delhi Store: M-5, First Floor, M Block Market, Greater Kailash I, New Delhi, Delhi 110048
Chandigarh Store: Plot No. 16, Industrial Area Phase 2, Panchkula, Haryana 134116
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