The exhibit traces the development of the Thathera metal craft in Jaipur from the 18th to the 21st Century.
Most Indian households used Degchi pots made in copper and brass to cook food.
The practical and visual characteristic include an upward taper - which makes the object easy to to grab and lift; and ensures that the steam condenses and rolls down the walls - keeping the flavour and aroma of the food intact.
A multi-purpose globular vessels was used to retrieve, carry, store and pour water in homes, in temples and for travel. The shape of the lota facilitates the flow of water at the angles of typical usage, and the elegantly reflexed rim enables a comfortable hand grip. Since the object was - and still is - associated with several daily rituals and channels the need of the user - several verses are written in Urdu and Sanskrit to express the positive experiences the object encourages:
Preet karo to aisi kije, jaise lota dor, gala fasaaye aapna, paani piye koi aur.
'Be like a lota, water container - while it has a rope or a thread tied around its neck, it yet quenches the thirst of others. This is love and affection.'
A flat brass tray with a rim used to make unleavened bread is a staple in most Indian kitchens. The functional characteristics of the vessel includes a diameter modulated by the typical quantity of dough utilized by an average family over a course of a day. The rim of the utensil is curved and angulated to enable circular motion facilitating proper kneading - and the angle of the sides are in a perfect angle to enable maximum force when the dough is pushed under and over. The paraat also serves as a platter or tray for a range of objects - from lumps of jaggery to earthen lamps for festivals.
A brass or copper drinking vessel was used for communal use mostly by the hindu community. The community had strict taboos about physical contact and ritual purity in their caste hierarchy. Hence the sharp-long pipe, a distinct feature of the vessel ensured that a person does not come in direct contact with the water - ensuring the “purity” of water consumed.
Storing large amounts of grains and liquids in Brass utensils was a common practice in Indian households. While the anti-bacterial properties of metals only came to be known later. People observed through observation that dry food and liquids stored in metal vessels remained intact as compared to in other materials.
Surahi, a ceremonial water utensil is used for ritualistic purposes by the Muslim community. It has a similar structure to a lota - but with an additional spout. The Quran prescribes a man to perform all ablutions in running water - hence the water when poured out of the spout (tonti) is symbolically considered running.
In the Nagara style (North Indian) temples, a kalasha is an inverted vase shaped piece that crowns the temple tower. The kalash is made in brass to provide a visual contrast to the stone. Moreover, a Hindu temple is rife with symbolic meaning - the temple itself represents the image of the body of the universe - in that context the kalash, pinnacle, symbolises the golden sun resting on the peak of a mountain.
The school of arts in Jaipur introduced a number of brassware courses. The objects that were designed in the School of Art had ornamentations and patterns that were not very different from what might have appealed to the Mughals and the local ruling elite. But when applied to European shapes and forms - they transmitted a certain global reach and colonial power.
These objects were made popular in England by the Arts and crafts Movement and were consumed in already over-furnished Victorian Drawing rooms
The studio has designed a series of solid side tables - called the Kalasha Side Tables. These tables, which can also be used as stands are differentiated because of the distinct profile of their shafts that draw reference from a kalasha capping a temple spire, traditionally designed by Thathera craftsmen.
Anantaya studio has teamed up with Thathera craftsmen to create a collection of a trio of hand-hammered bowls. The gently curving silhouette of the structure is reminiscent of the Hindu God Shiva’s third eye of enlightenment - and hence the name Tri- Netra ( Tri meaning three, and netra meaning eye). The three pods when strung together with hanging rods serve as an installation, and when used individually as vases or bowls.
All the Thathera craftsmen of Jaipur.
Ayush Kasliwal, Anantya
Prem Chand Patel, Thathera Craftsman
Tahir Khan Buksh, Fine Art Palace
Tauseef Rehan and Shamit Das, Studio Saswata