Streets no longer echo with the calls of the Kaliwala who once offered to polish copper and brass utensils at doorstep.
The streets of the city no longer echo with the calls of the Kaliwala who once offered to polish copper and brass utensils at one’s doorstep. Today, silver, glass, stainless steel and non-stick pans and pots have replaced silver and brass kitchenware, traditionally used in Pakistani kitchens.
To get brass and silverware polished and coated, one has to head to the narrow streets of the Bhabra Bazaar. Shops in this bazaar, home to a number of families who migrated from parts of India, still offer the tradition services of Kaliwala, coating, polishing and enamelling brass and silver.
These shopkeepers also buy pure brass and silver at Rs300 to Rs400 per kg. While some people come here to sell their brass and silver, others come looking for antiques such as pandan, vases, candleholders, lanterns, jugs and glasses made out of these metals.
A shopkeeper, Abdul Hameed, told Dawn: “Most people no longer buy brass utensils for cooking and serving food because the maintenance is very cumbersome. Brass kitchenware must be coated with tin every two months otherwise, food cooked in them becomes toxic. Today, brass items are mostly used for decoration.”
He added, “But stainless steel pots are only good for boiling water or milk. Nothing compares to food cooked in a large brass or silver daig (pot)”.
The art of polishing and coating metals has been in Hameed’s family, for centuries. Once, his father used to go to bazaars and mohallahs to coat utensils but today the family has set up a shop offering these services.
Another shopkeeper, Shamshair Ahmed, told Dawn the brass and copper utensils are sold to factories in Gujranwala and melted down to produce electricity wires or to the ordinance factory in Wah for manufacturing cartridges or ammunition.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2015
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