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Monday, June 27, 2022

Simply Pune

The familiar rhythmic clanging of leather-coated metal hammers falling on copper utensils greets one,as you travel through the by lanes of Kasba Peth to the narrow winding lane of Tambat Ali located near the Pavale Chowk.

Written by Rohan Swamy |
August 2, 2009 5:44:29 am

In a fast-changing world,Tambat Ali still treads the thin line between merging the old with the new

The familiar rhythmic clanging of leather-coated metal hammers falling on copper utensils greets one,as you travel through the by lanes of Kasba Peth to the narrow winding lane of Tambat Ali located near the Pavale Chowk. Walking in this one of a kind place,one cannot help but be amazed at the dexterity of the few many copper metal workers who beat the glistening brown metal into shape.

Bandu Potphode,one of the sheet metal workers,whose family has been in the profession for the last five generations says,”I grew up to the sounds of the hammer and the chisel hitting the copper plates,also known as Matharkaam and have now been in the profession for over 45 years. Many families in this neighbourhood paint a dismal picture about the art fast losing its charm and people migrating away in search of better means but I don’t think this is the case. True there were over a 100 families here earlier and now there are barely 25 to 30 families involved in the trade but that doesn’t mean the art has lost its charm or is in danger of extinction.”

The people involved in the manufacturing of the utensils are called the Koshta Kasar,and have been involved in making the utensils since generations. Speaking more about the skill,Shankar Kande says,”Earlier on the vessels used to be shaped from copper sheets by hand on stone anvils called Lokhandi Adi. The vessels now are made on lathe machines,for the simple reason that it is less time consuming and a copper Handi which earlier used to take three hours to make now is made in under one hour.”

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Explaining about hitting the completed vessel with a hammer he adds,”The process is similar to an industrial process used to increase the strength of the metal. By hitting the hammer along the circumference of the vessel we not only increase its fatigue resistance,but also increase its capacity to withstand higher temperatures and variations in it. So even though people might think it is done just to give a pretty design to the plain copper utensil the functional requirements of the vessel are hugely improved by hitting it.”

The vessels earlier on used to be sold according to fixed prices,but now a days it is sold according to the kilo price of the copper. The street price of copper these days is Rs 450 per kilo,so an average sized Handi (copper vessel used to store water) can cost somewhere near 500 rupees or a big sized copper vessel can cost in excess of Rs. 2000. As of now we manufacture Handis,Kalshi,Ghanghala,filters and Tapelis that have been a part of Maharashtrian culture,says Bandya Hari another worker.

“Modernisation might have eaten into the age old tradition of making copper utensils by hand but then even in a fast-changing world,sometimes time moves slowly in our world and there are little changes. This art is here,and it is here to stay,” says Potphode with an air of defiance.

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