Scouring the Kodava attic

Last Updated 22 January 2018, 18:28 IST

Passionate about relics and all things old, this retired History lecturer's face brims with excitement as he shows his collection to the tourists and attempts to provide  a theatrical demonstration of the artefacts.  Bacharaniyanda P Appanna, a native of Kushalnagar, is a hoarder of historical artefacts that are exclusive to Kodagu. History comes alive in his house not just through the artefacts, but also through his energetic tale-telling enactment.

The history and culture of Kodagu have been an enticing topic for professional and amateur researchers alike. For most of these researchers, the abode of Bacharaniyanda P Appanna is a treasure trove of knowledge, resembling a theatre of history.

The dwelling

Appanna invariably accompanies while the curious visitor explores his collection. Taking you through a small room, he points out at an ordinary bulb. Switching it on, he says, "This bulb has been functioning from January 1, 1973." Such is his precision and enthusiasm for age-old things. One is welcomed by a huge bookshelf at the entrance of his house. There is a kurikutt  - a   single piece vermilion and turmeric holder made of wood, hanging beside a brass lamp inside the house. Below this lies a chanduka, a compartmented wooden case.

Sitting beside these dateless artefacts, he says, "I have been hoarding historical objects for over 30 years now. Students and professionals from around the globe come here to learn about the significance of these artefacts."

Appanna travels to the interior parts of Kodagu and scrutinises each village to source his artefacts. He is interested in exploring old ancestral houses, and says, "I mostly visit age-old houses owned by the elderly. Requesting their permission, I first scrutinise the attic and then the backyard to find the valuables." Thereby, he  acquires innumerable authentic and priceless artefacts for his collection.

Appanna has thoroughly researched and named the artefacts correctly, some in Kannada and the rest in Kodava language. Since his house cannot accommodate all the artefacts, some are placed in a makeshift shed outside the house.

Several Kodava weapons hang inside the house. They include the amb kathi, meembal,  vodi kathi and a variety of rifles strung along with a line of bullets. Spirited, he precisely enacts how the Kodavas used these weapons, and explains, "Amb kathi was designed for the ladies, who were skilfully trained to use them. The meembal was used for fishing."

Showcasing hobbies

His makeshift shed is home to antique vessels, vintage knitted baskets and stone measures to name a few. Explaining the functionality of sekala, a huge mud pot with pores in its inner lining, he says, "It was the steam cooker of the bygone era." He then lines up a few measuring bowls, pare, pani and sair, and explains, "One pare is 10 sair, one pani is two sair…" These are local measuring units of the bygone days. Similarly, he lines up a few stone weights and goes on to explain their units, which include pare and batti.

Furthermore, he introduces the kota kudike,  a mud pot that used bamboo leaves and wet sand placed at its bottom to preserve meat and fish for five to six days. He also possesses a wooden device used to make nuputtu,  a famous Kodava dish.  Next is the batte bari, a knitted basket, that acts as a wardrobe. Showing one of the ancient ones, he says, "This belonged to the wife of Kaliyat Ajappa, a cult deity." Likewise, he shows more items such as the  pombana  (coin holder), maal pott (jewellery holder), ele thatte  (ancient tray), etc.
He also possesses the ceremonial dowry items given to women during their weddings.  

In the backyard, equipment related to agriculture and fishing is arranged. The design of the ancient fish trap is sure to enthral the viewers. Bacharaniyanda house is open to all enthusiasts who want to experience the culture of Kodagu and the visitors' names are jotted neatly in his diary with dates. Appanna can be contacted on 9480730763.

(Published 22 January 2018, 10:02 IST)

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