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.