Nostalgia in the attic

H J Padmaraju Mar 5 2018, 20:44 IST

Among the many distinctive activities that have enriched the farming tradition of Tumakuru is Javaregowda's effort to preserve traditional farm equipment and heritage household items. His collection includes implements that were used by his ancestors, and span across four generations. And, there are over 200 such exhibits placed in the attic of his house. The tools found here provide a glimpse of the ingenuity of rural people and their social and agricultural practices. For instance, wooden harrows of different types were used to mark the field before the rains and break the soil crust after the showers. In a row of exhibits, there is a cane resembling a walking stick, which is actually a four-foot-long wooden scabbard with a three-foot-long sickle inside it. Essentially, a wooden sword that was used as a protective weapon against wild animals entering the fields, particularly during the night.

Interesting collectables

Javaregowda's collection opens a world of knowledge to agriculture enthusiasts. An array of ploughs, rakes (a toothed implement used to gather leaves, cut grass etc), ploughshare, wooden pieces that connect the yoke and plough, traditional seed drills, sowing machines, apart from various designs of sticks and scourges indicate the various activities involved in the first stage of cultivation.

Furthermore, there are over 25 exhibits related to cattle rearing and management on display. They include atna yoke, which was used to initiate young oxen into ploughing, a thorn that was used to pierce the nose of oxen to insert nose-rope, a device that was used to remove food stuck in the throat of animals, wooden feed troughs, bamboo tubes used to pour medicine down the animal's throat, and various brooms that were used to clean the cattle shed. Then, there is a variety of equipment, mostly hand tools, that were common in farmers' houses a few decades ago. Pickaxe, shovel, crowbar, chainsaw, akkadi sadde, mintu kolu and various weights and measures take us to the days of yore.

Farmers of the past generations had a different set of utensils and equipment to be used during festive occasions. Glancing through different types of pestles, wooden lamp stands, wooden chairs, hasemanes with intricate carvings and designs makes one appreciate how farmers blended art and agriculture. Some of the delicate tools are preserved separately in a nearby house, which has a better facility to protect them from heat and humidity.

Showcasing it all

Since the attic is glutted with these exhibits, it becomes difficult if people visit the place in groups. In such situations, Javaregowda brings all the collectables down and showcases them to the enthusiasts. It is not just the exhibits that make the collection interesting, but the way Javaregowda explains each and every device - from its significance to the type of wood used to make the device, and its functioning. For a keen learner, a day is not enough to get comprehensive information about these implements.

Students, farm enthusiasts and farmers visit his house regularly to see and understand how farming practices have changed over years. "It is a rare opportunity to see the implements that otherwise could be only seen in books as diagrams or sketches," says K R Siddagangamma who is pursuing doctoral research in agriculture. Javaregowda's family once owned hundreds of acres of land and designed their own agricultural tools. Thereby, all the implements here were once used by his ancestors. "We can notice that the tools were designed with precision based on crop variety, seasonal requirements and other specific needs of the farmers," says T K Siddaganganna, a farmer.

This equipment can still be used in farming. "The implements, if used properly, can be an answer to many problems that we are facing now ­ ­ ­- from managing weeds to soil nourishment," says Javaregowda, while describing a plough which also helps reduce the emergence of weeds.

Proper research and documentation of the equipment collected by Javaregowda will go a long way in understanding and exploring their use in the present time. Also, there is a need to provide a basic infrastructure to preserve and exhibit these rare collectables. Those interested in viewing the collection can contact Javaregowda on 9482789261.

(Translated by AP)

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