Chinese Jars and Pickles

30th March Mr Nandakumar

Today, I present my painting of Chinese jars or “Bharani” (in Malayalam). I have always been fascinated by Chinese jars from a young age. They have different sizes. Some are small and decorative pieces. However, some are three feet tall with one foot in diameter. Chinese jars arrived in Kerala with the spice traders during the 10th and 15th Centuries. The other Chinese contributions to Kerala are Silk cloth, a cooking pan called Cheena Chatty, the Fishing nets and Cheena Palli or mosque. It is noteworthy that such peaceful trading took place centuries ago. Seven hundred years ago, a Malayalee trader settled in Guangxi. They are called the Guli’s children. Joe Thomas Karackattu has tracked the 20th generation of his descendants. Isn’t that remarkable that a Malayalee has descendants in China?

I am keen to share the story of the pickles preserved in Chinese jars. In those days, women kept tendergreen mango pickles in these jars, and anyone who tasted them would ask for seconds. These pickles were a highlight at many communal lunches at the Palace. For me, it has a special place. My grandfather used to store banana chips in these jars. He would seal the lid with rope to maintain the freshness. However, the best moments were when he shared the chips with us with his most adorable smile. We miss those lovely moments and his benevolent smile.

In modern times, Chinese jars are prized items, and they adorn the lobbies of many upscale hotels. For me, they exude an old-world charm and grandeur. Life is unimaginable without pickles. Without those Chinese jars, we would have never tasted these mouth-watering morsels of delight.

9 thoughts on “Chinese Jars and Pickles

  1. Nice trivia to relish on the nostalgic memories. They say smell and taste lingers on longer for memories to recall the nostalgic moments associated with it. Great art to capture the essence.

  2. This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this historical cultural exchange which had left their marks in both tangible items of ceramic pots and fishing nets as well as in the language. I’m guessing Cheena is China. And you have acquired a very credible Chinese name! 😊. When I was on a train from Suzhou to Hangzhou (city famous for silk) in 2015, I met an Indian man who said he’d lived in China for almost 20 years. It was not a surprise to learn that he was in the silk business.

    1. Dear Lo Yen Nyuk thanks🙏 for your comments Cheena does mean China even today the Chinese fishing nets are being used from the city called Kochi one can get breathtakingly beautiful sunsets through the Chinese fishing nets
      Very nice to hear about your meeting an Indian on a train journey working in the silk industry in China it’s a small world afterall😊
      Good day
      Nandu

    2. One more gift from China are the numerous Chinese restaurants dotted throughout India. Did you find Indian food during your travels in China?

  3. Dear Ramesh Keshavdas
    Thanks Ramesh for your comments & feedback on Chinese jars
    What you said is true over a period of time the pickles acquire a taste.,… That triggers the nostalgia (& the taste buds)

  4. Superb naarative to match an equally impressive painting. Love reading these interesting articles. Keep them coming

  5. Dear Gopi 👍🏾
    Thanks a lot for those nice & inspiring comments
    I did post a reply on 3rd April somehow it didn’t get posted sorry for the delay
    Your comments mean a lot to me
    Thànks once again🙏 dear Gopi
    Nandu

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