Out of the melting pot
Remember the man paanai (mud pots) and eeya chombu (tin vessel) that our grandmothers once used for making curries and rasam? Well, they are making a comeback — thanks to the constant efforts at reviving artisanal traditions in all industries today. With the hope of making traditional pots and pans trending in your kitchen space again, this first-time utensil pop-up, Patram, put together by The Crafts Council of India, a non-profit organisation that works towards the sustainability of Crafts and Textiles, showcases handpicked tableware handcrafted by artisans. Made of copper, brass, ceramics, wood, and terracotta, the products on display are sourced from Auroville in Puducherry and go all the way up to Kashmir. From vessels made of Kansa alloy and bell metals to runners stitched using bamboo rope crafting techniques, this place will have a variety for your dining table.
“The idea originated from our programme Marumalarchi, that focussed on reviving eight different crafts and textiles of Tamil Nadu. We wanted to extend the project to bring back pan-Indian crafts and textiles for tableware. And I personally feel that Chennai has a different culinary scene now where a lot of people are constantly exploring native traditional recipes and earthenware vessels as an alternate to the commonly used stainless steel,” says Jayasri Samyukta, Executive Committee member, CCI.
This week long exhibition will be initiated with a talk by Pradeep Chakravarthy, a historian who is an expert in Tamil Nadu’s history, culture and civilization. He will focus on the part that patram plays in cooking, right from retaining the flavours of ingredients put into it to the health benefits of using environment-friendly age-old metals.We give you a gist of what you can expect from the exhibition.
Forming an integral part of the dining set up, the contemporary dinner-ware is a blend of ancient artisanal vessel-making skills along with recent innovation. While we have urli, an age-old vessel that is used for making payasam in temples of Kerala, on the other end we have bowls and jars made of soft stones, a metal that was earlier used only in sculptures. The latest additions are the ceramic vessels and Puneet Brar from Auroville has been making them for the past 17 years. “Stoneware has been trending for quite sometime. I make ceramic serveware of dabbas that has a good heating capacity and can be comfortably used for oven cooking,” she says.
Use of eco-friendly metal extends to your blending, chopping and serving options as well. Artisans from Puducherry, Santiniketan in West Bengal, and Pilkhuwa in UP commonly use wood or bamboo to create ladle, knives, spoons, forks, cutting boards and platters. We learn that wood helps to maintain the sharpness of knives.
Tray of colours
While picking up trays, we always look for the number of cups it can hold. But there is more to these platters when it comes to intricate designs like Mother of Pearl, Madhubani art work and Shibori tie and dye prints. These trays with a mix of ethereal and vivid colours can also be used as a showpiece.
Setting a fine table requires appropriate tableware to enhance the dining experience. Look out for these colourful coasters with pattachitra art work from Orissa and Kashmiri Papier-mâché with floral prints of chrysanthemums, Nargis, and tulips. Along with them, the table mats and matching napkins are available in khadi with Chikankari embroidery, Benarasi and Sungudi pattern that will make you think twice before you spill something on it.
While choosing your table runners it is important to keep trends as well as basic elements like colour and texture. Do not change your mind when you see these korai grass mats woven on cotton or silk warp by Pattamadai women of Tirunelveli crafting community or mats made of screw pines that grow on the river beds of Killimangalam, Tamil Nadu.
In our city, Karthigai Deepam is usually celebrated by lighting up of diyas or agals at homes and temples. The lamp collections this season ranges from tea lights for the table to smart flat stone jaali lights. Trending are the painted black and white zebra wooden block lamps for your interiors.Also because this month is considered to be attracting the maximum number of tourists from other parts of the globe, check out their festive collection of quirky dolls, folk art paintings, and mementos.
`500 upwards. From November 22 to 30. At Kamala stores, Egmore. Details: 24341456