Once The Royal Copper-smiths, having mastered making artifacts out of copper, Tambat Community gave their all to Nurture this Art centuries ago. But now only handful of their descendants trying hard to prevent his Ancient Heritage from loosing its shine. Here is a story about them, their life and their love for copper.
An Artist ?
Artist is one very broad term generally used for Photographers, Singers, Writers, Music Directors, Graphic Designers etc. In short anyone who uses their own creative thinking to make something extraordinary out of nothing. And all the professions I have mentioned above are very well known, appreciated and acknowledged in the wide world. But there is one profession which is no less creative than any of the above but still surviving in dark narrow alleys of Tambat Ali at Kasba Peth in Pune.
“The Copper-smith”, known as Tambat in Maharashtra, yes that’s the profession and I am sure it never came to your mind while I was reciting some of the hottest creative professions in the market today. Reason they lack the skill of marketing and advertising their art. But on terms of Creativity they don’t lack anything at all.
More about Tambats
These Copper-smith Artisans were originally from Konkan region of Maharashtra. Later invited to Pune by the Peshwas some 400 years back to make the weapons and palace utensils. There was nothing they could not make then be it Sword to fight an enemy in a battle or a Rolling pin to make a perfect round chapatti in the kitchen. So their perfection was evident through the variety of things they could make out of copper.
Same is the outcome now though they make mostly kitchen utensils including jugs, glass, plates, matka, bottles etc.
And biggest secret of their Art is most of their work, almost 60%, is done by hands and rest by machine which makes this work even more special.
Other side of the coin
So far the story looks bright and shining just like this copper matka but did you observe how dark it’s inside looks, that’s exactly how life of these Tambat’s are in reality.
While roaming around Tambat Ali (An alley named after Tambat community) I could witness how tough their life is. When they wake up as early as 6:00 am to start their work, how there are 6-7 homes in the space we have a lavish 3bhk apartment in a big society. How their tiny homes don’t get much sunlight (as they are way inside the alleys), or don’t even have enough space to lead a healthy life.
Then how whole place echoes sound “Thak Thak” of each and every beat created by hammering the utensils to create intricate designs. Some of them did have an radio playing some beautiful old bollywood songs (when I reached there it was playing one beautiful song by Mukesh which I loved).
Lastly how these elderly people still have to go through all the grueling work-hours even at this age cause younger generation is not ready to take up this art as profession yet (more on this later in this blog).
But what’s even more heartbreaking is after spending whole day in that kind of environment, just creating what they know best and love the most, they don’t make much money. What I got to know from Tambat Samaj leader Mr. Sunil Wadke is they hardly get 300/- a day after spending all day working which is really nothing looking at how expensive things are in today’s time.
The reason of low income is simply low demand of such copper utensil as they are kind of overshadowed by Plastic, Teflon, Aluminium utensils which ALL are harmful to health but cause they look stylish and as a status symbol, are used more.
The sigh of relief
We do have a silver lining as these families are fighting all the odds just to keep this Art, their Centuries old tradition alive. They are giving their all so that this Heritage of Pune don’t go down in history all lost and forgotten. They were all still happy beating a utensil with hammer or putting it in fire.
This old man even opened his storage room for me and my friend so that we can find some really cool things to photograph when we were looking here and there. Also proudly showed photograph of his grand-daughter arranging some copper utensils. I was so impressed seeing him so open and accepting about his situation as if he has no qualms about all the struggles and hardships they are going through.
We having literally everything in our life still find things to argue about or to be dis-satisfied with life. But seeing him that way really opened my eyes.
While their old generations worked hard to infuse life into a lifeless metal, current generations are trying hard just to keep this Art alive. Back then 200 families were nurturing their Heritage but right now there are handful of them as this work do not fetch enough monetary gain for them to be able to survive in today’s time.
And I do think they are not wrong either as they have families to feed, bills to pay and life to live. But what’s wrong is our ignorance towards importance of copper utensils. We are so fascinated by “Durable” plastic or “Shiny” Aluminum vessels, but never look at its adverse effect on our health. And at same time even if someone wants to buy it they find online portals which sell utensils of low quality and at high price. Also Tambats have no online outlet or advertising strategy to attract more customers.
Can’t we just slow down and look at this Art which is about to lose its Shine if not taken care of ? Can’t these Tambat Aristans be supported so that they can lead a better life ?
I am sure many of you would have thought yes we want to but how to ? So here are the details of the Tambat community which you can contact and buy the utensils from them directly. And you will surely be very happy with the quality, as its made of the best raw material, and price as there is no mediator involved for commission.
Tambat Handicraft Sanstha – 9850151819 / 9604714916
1385, Kasba Peth, Pune, Maharashtra
Have you ever been to Tambat Ali or any other similar Artisan’s place ? Do share with me your experience if you have been to such places.