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Keeping the Butter Safe

March 10, 2021 2 min read

This woven device is an Indhoni or a pot holder, hung up from the ceiling beams. The raison d’etre for such a hanging is to hold pots of milk / curd / butter and keep them elevated above ground level – usually even above head-level.

Why do that?

In the era when refrigerators were not common homes had a “pinjara” or an airy netted cupboard in which to store covered pots of food. Keeping these out of reach was important as homes did not have internal doors and all spaces were accessible to children and pets alike.

In my childhood summers in Surat, I recall how hard my great-grandma had to work to hide the mithai desserts in the dark corners of the high shelves of the pinjara from me and my uncle (who was a year younger than me) as we tried our hand at thievery while the adults took their afternoon siesta. As we were both only 5-6 years old, our heights would not allow much success unfortunately but they did earn us some scoldings!

Also famous for similar acts of stealing yummy delicacies is Baby Krishna. His story is slightly different from ours in that he was known to be successful as he led his little troop of buddies to steal butter from all the homes in the neighbourhood. The angst that the mischief of the little ones caused to the auntys also made them dearer to the adults!

Home-made butter that is made by first collecting the cream, setting it with home-made yoghurt and then churning the cream until the white butter separates. This is a recipe that all Indian women (including me) know. We use it to make Ghee which is a staple at every Indian table. And I can certify on legal paper that the taste of the home made butter is to die for! But before I get distracted and digress into tales from my kitchen, let me come back to the story that I began…

The Indhonis were used in addition to the Pinjaras and were mainly for fluids – like milk, chaas or buttermilk, yoghurt & butter. The bottoms of these pots were rounded and do not sit well on flat wooden shelves so I presume that this is the reason to hang them suspended on Indhonis.

Here is a photo (exhibited previously) of beautiful Paro, I took in a serendipitous meeting in an extreme rural setting by a stream in Jhaadol district in Rajasthan. The pot rests on an Indhoni too but this is a different format – not the type that hangs from ceilings.

Here is a painting from the wovensouls collection (now sold) that describes the act of theft described 4 sentences ago:

Another print of a miniature painting (still available)with Radha feeding Krishna his favorite delicacy: home made butter.

And finally, a real Indhoni from Gujarat:


What a big long story behind a small little textile!!

See more of this piece here: Link




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