Vilaasita / Copper
Tambat Ali, a settlement of Tambat or copper craftsman came into existence around 400 years ago during the Peshwa reign in the western town of Pune. Most Tambats originally came to Pune from the Konkan region. The community flourished during the Peshwa rule with the Peshwas being its early patrons for religious and military needs. Tambats made weapons, copper coins and kitchen utensils for the royal family. Seven generations of Tambats are said to have lived in Tambat Ali, passing the craft down generations.
Like other heritage crafts, copper craft is also faced with modern realities like rising metal prices, increased use of materials like stainless steel and plastic and other opportunities for the young generation, leading to attrition of artisans. From over 800 Tambat families in the 1970s, the number has dwindled to less than 80. Passed on through apprenticeship from one generation to the next, today the craft remains in the hands of a few craftspeople.
India’s fascination with metal craft dates back as far as 3000 BC. Over the period various techniques have been developed to shape metal into beautiful wares: beating it, casting it using natural materials, and spinning it on dies. Today’s artisans are still using these simple, earthy techniques to produce their creations be it in Tambat Ali in Pune or in the neighborhoods of Moradabad.
At Vilaasita, we are inspired by the craftsmanship of yesteryears. The design and embellishment on the everyday objects from the bygone era amazes us. Handcrafted products have a unique charm and demonstrate a sense of purpose. So many handcrafting traditions are slowly dying out. Our effort is to revive some of these artisanal traditions by designing products that are beautiful yet relevant and contemporary yet honed through time-tested technique.
Our recently launched, Copper & Brass Collection relies on the ancestral practice followed by the Tambat craftsman. All products follow a time consuming and arduous process. Each design begins as a metal sheet that is cut and roughly shaped. The artisans further either spin or mold the sheet by hand to give it its preliminary form, depending on the product design. Then the piece is heated, cooled, and annealed until it is ready for the final phase of production. To finish the product, The artisans then use several wooden and steel head hammers, and khod karvai — a simple, dual component tool with a wooden seat and long cast iron shaper to give each piece its signature hand-beaten detail, traditionally known as “mathar kaam”. Each small bowl would have about 1000-1200 concentric strokes of hammer- finesse comes only with years of perfecting the skill.
The entire process is done by hand in small studios in Tambat Ali.
The result? A regal, hand-beaten copper vase, just like Peshwas would have liked it.