We left the area that had small roads and houses and entered into a more commercial area of the district. I like these two buildings and the curves that they included in the structures adding more interest to the architecture of the area….
We passed this large Ganesha that has a light show associated with it….
It would certainly be interesting to see it at night!!
We proceeded down another alleyway and Rashid stopped to tell me about where we were going next. I took the opportunity to get a photo of him (and his VERY heavy backpack)…..
As we talked, I started hearing an incessant tapping in the background making me realize that we were entering the “Coopersmith area”. As I laughed about the fact that I could hear it before I saw it, Rashid told me that there is a bird called a “Coppersmith Barbet” whose call makes this same sound and that, if there were a bunch of them around, it would sound just like what I was hearing.
The Coppersmiths were first invited to the area to make money…literally to make coins. Unfortunately, the money changed over time with more paper money being printed and eventually copper was no longer used. So, the Coppersmiths turned to making vessels for use in homes and businesses.
The first gentleman that we talked to was happily tapping on a copper pot but stopped to show us what he was doing…..
His next door neighbor was also working on a pot and this photo better shows the art of their work….
Note the placement of his feet and how he uses his legs to help hold the pot and to turn it as he taps. Here is a video that shows them both in action…..
What I couldn’t figure out was exactly how they were holding the pot steady. This was revealed when he took the pot off and showed a metal plate that the pot rests on while the hammering is taking place. In this way, the copper is being hammered from both sides at the same time, making it very strong.
In this photo he is rubbing the hammer on a surface to shine it up and you will notice that the “stirrup” on the metal bar is also very slick and shiny. This is done so that there will not be any image “stamped” onto the pot.
And then it was MY turn to try it…..
My first problem was that my legs were TOO long to put into place to steady the pot, much less using my foot to turn the pot so the master helped to steady it while I tapped away. My first taps were too light but when I put a little muscle into it I was actually able to get an even finish. I asked if I could come back and get a job working for them???
We headed down yet another narrow alley with the plan to visit an older man who was a Master Coppersmith……
Unfortunately, he was in the US at the moment, giving workshops to future smiths, but his workshop was still open and being used by his assistants.
There was a table full of partially finished works and starts of new projects….
It reminded me a bit of my cutting table at home!!!
This pot would be too narrow to fit over the “stirrup” and if they started tapping on it without any support, it would cave in on itself. To fix this, the pot is filled with wax which provides a strong base for the smithy work. After the design is finished, the wax is heated and melted out of the pot.
And of course, there were things to purchase in the workshop so a couple of these beautiful pieces came home with me…..
We were allowed into the main workshop for this Smith and Rashid “mimed” the process used to prepare the pots. He starts with flat pieces of copper which are cut into approximate sizes…..Then a collapsible wooden mold is placed on the left spindle and the large screwdriver-looking tool is used to bend the copper sheeting around the mold…
The finished shapes are fired to give them strength and put thru an acid wash.
After the designs are tapped/etched on the piece, they are fired again, washed again and then lacquered. The resulting piece is magnificent!!!
I asked what these pots were…..
….and found out that they were used to hydrate the wooden molds so that they wouldn’t dry out and crack.
I reluctantly left this area with Rashid’s backpack bulging a bit more!!
We passed this beautiful woman washing her clothes on a rock outside of her home and, of course, I asked to take a photo. Once again, she straightened her outfit and then bent back to her work. I think that there may be a slight smile on her face…..
We visited one last Coppersmith who is working with a government program which helps to subsidize the work. He was making gorgeous copper leaves, starting with the forms shown below…..
While we were in the shop, this gentleman was doing the final polishing on the leaves…..
You can see the difference between these two leaves….
I picked up the one on the right and it was still very warm from the polishing!! Unfortunately these were not for sale but they were certainly beautiful!!!
Next stop was to an aluminum pot maker who was using the same basic technique…..
We arrived in a courtyard that was filled with people and I was informed that this is one of the most important areas for the Ganesh festival and that this particular Ganesha has been named as the “Presiding Diety” and will be the one to lead the parades on the day that they are taken to be released to the water.
Across from this shrine is the Kasba Ganesh Temple. The story of this temple is that some boys were working as shepherds in the field and found a stone in which they saw the image of Ganesh. They returned often to worship at the stone and an important local woman was impressed by their devotion. In 1636, she caused the temple to be erected on this spot, making it the oldest Ganesh temple.
When we entered the temple, there was a HUGE, multi-colored Rangoli just inside the entrance. Rashid mentioned that the creator of the Rangoli must be very proud of it as he added his phone number into the design. Nothing like a bit of free advertising!!!
Rashid also gave some insight into the current Ganesh festival. It was celebrated many years ago but the tradition had died out. Then when the British were ruling India, they passed a ban to keep the Indian people from publically gathering in large groups. As a way around this, they “revived” this festival to give them a “religious” reason for the gathering.
I stood in line to see the Ganesh and was treated to this sight (not my photo)….
You have to really use your imagination to see the Ganesh!!!
We hopped in one more Rickshaw and headed for our last sight of the day. As we rode he warned me that it officially closed at 1:00, but depending on who was on guard duty, we might be allowed in. Apparently the correct guard was there because the doors were opened and we were welcomed in!!!
This was the Vishrambagh Wada, a large mansion built in 1807. It was inhabited by several different residents and then was taken over by the British. In 1871, the entire Eastern wing of the wada was destroyed by fire and reconstruction did not start until the 1930’s. They are slowly refurbishing this beautiful building, but have no definite plans as to what it will be used for when it is finished.
We entered a wonderful courtyard and I enjoyed thinking about how it would have looked in its glory days…..
Rashid told me that the word vishram meant relaxation or rest so he suggested that we do exactly that…..have a cup of tea and some homemade biscuits (cookies)…..
I hadn’t realized until then that I was actually tired and a bit hungry. I had simply been too engrossed earlier to even think about it!!!!
After two cups of tea and a number of cookies, we reluctantly left the Kasba Peth and found a Rickshaw to take us back to Rashid’s car.
He apologized for having to “cut the tour short” in order to pick up his daughter from school, but I certainly didn’t feel slighted at all. I had spent almost 7 hours exploring one of the sweetest areas of India and was left with memories that will be with me until I am old and grey!!!
Oh….Michael was appropriately jealous of my time, but good-naturedly checked out all of my photos and listened to my description of the day. He did, however, tell me that I wasn’t allowed to go with him on the next fun adventure but instead had to “sit on the bed and think about what I had done wrong”…..such is life!!!