Tamta: Copperware Craft

Traditions From Uttarakhand

Project FUEL

In collaboration with Uttarakhand Handloom and Handicraft Development Council

Uttarakhand was rich in copper ores, which were mined in both Garhwal and Kumaon region. The copper obtained from here was used to make hand-beaten copperware and musical instruments. Even after the mines were shut, the coppersmith community continued making the objects, carrying on the traditional craft. This craft form is named after the coppersmiths, who are known as Tamta.

Copperware Objects and their utilities (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

The objects made from copper are used in general household work, like cooking utensils, or vessels to store water. Copper utensils are especially popular for their health benefits.

They are also used to make musical instruments like dhol, a percussion instrument, or Ransingha, an S-shaped trumpet (seen in the picture) that is played during rituals or festivals.

Cutting a copper sheet, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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Giving shape to copper sheet, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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Firing the copper vessel, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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To begin the process of making a copperware vessel, the artisan draws a circle using a compass on the metal sheet and then cuts it out from the rest of the sheet. Using a hammer, he beats the cut-out sheet to give it a hemispherical shape, that will form the base of the vessel. The piece is then heated in a kiln to soften the metal, which will help the artisan to mould it into proper shape.

Hammering the copper vessel (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

After the metal is taken out of the kiln, the artisan beats it with a hammer to get the desired shape. A skilled artisan can recognize by the sound of the metal hitting the hammer if the technique they are using is correct or not.

Copper vessel fired in kiln (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

All the pieces of the vessel are prepared in the same fashion. Once the individual parts are ready, they are fused together and put in the kiln once again to braze the joints.

Giving finsishing touches to a copper vessel (2018/2018) by Project FUELProject FUEL

Copperware objects are known for their reddish hue and shine. To achieve this, tamarind and sand are used to clean and give finishing touches to a copper product.

Dulup Ram, a coppersmith, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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Dulup Ram resides in the village of Danuchhina, Bageshwer district, Uttarakhand. Belonging to a very humble background, he learned the craft of making copperware by observing his father, and then later polishing his skills by experience. He has been working since the past 54 years, and has now trained around 150 people in his workshop. He believes that ‘No one is born a teacher. You have to become a student first.’

Tamta copper craft of Uttarakhand, Project FUEL, 2018/2018, From the collection of: Project FUEL
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In this video, Copperware craftsman Dulup Ram demonstrates how a copper vessel is made. He also tells his story of fighting all odds and finding the zest to take forward the legacy of Tamta craft.

Credits: Story

'Homespun in Uttarakhand' is an episodic series that features life lessons of seven master artisans of Uttarakhand, their personal stories and their passion celebrating the unrecognised & dying craft practices, which need preservation.

Presented by Project FUEL, in collaboration with Uttarakhand Handloom and Handicraft Development Council (UHHDC)

Director: Ajitesh Sharma
Director of Photography: Udit Khurana
Music: Sameer Rahat
Editor: Tushar Madhav
Producer: Apoorva Bakshi
Creative Producer: Deepak Ramola
Sound Design and Mix: Teja Asgk
Colorist: Shara Sethna
Project Manager: Neha Gupta
Research: Project FUEL

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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