Thanks for all the support and encouragement…A bronze factory in Tanjore spanning 9 generations…Over 600 years!!!

This kindly man, Mr. Ganapthay of Cholan Art Village, made the experience of visiting his nine-generation family’s bronzing business all the more special to both of us.

There are no words to express the gratitude we feel from all the caring and supportive messages we’ve received since posting yesterday’s story of cutting our time in India short by a few weeks to travel to South Africa, where we’ll wait out the coronavirus. Thanks to every one of you.

Mr. Ganapthay warm smile won our hearts. He showed us the items at varying stages in the production.

Staying in Marloth Park, where there have been no cases of the virus as yet, and spending time with our friends, both human and animal, provide us with a sense of comfort. If you missed yesterday’s post, please click here.

Wax and sand are used in making molds.

Amid all the planning and changes, complicated by a weak WiFi signal and frequent power outages at this hotel, we barely managed to book a flight and a place to stay at one of Louise’s holiday homes

His father has spent his entire life in the business.

But, the signal is too weak at this hotel to book a hotel for one night in Nelspruit since we can’t get a rental car until the following day when all the companies at the airport will be closed when we arrive after 7:00 pm.

Using wax is an integral part of the process.

Plus, the highway we’ll travel from Nelspruit to Marloth Park is not the safest road after dark on a Friday night. As a result, we’ll spend the night in Nelspruit and get a shuttle back to the airport in the morning to pick up a car. This requires plenty of planning, which we can’t do until we arrive at our following location.

Materials used in making the molds.

It’s hard to believe that in four days, we’ll be back in Mumbai, where this all began on January 31st. We’ll spend two nights in Mumbai and head out on the 20th, only six days from today. 

The wax mold for the bronze head of a God that his brother sculps, soon to be completed.

In the interim, yesterday we had an opportunity to see some sites in Tanjore, which included a fantastic visit to the most exciting bronze-making factory one can imagine. 

This facility, the Cholan Art Village, A House of Bronze Artware, manufacturers and exporters of Chola Bronzes, Tanjore paintings, and wood carvings are located in a quiet, unobtrusive neighborhood where one might not expect this creative family-owned business to be found. 

A finished product. To see large projects, scroll down to the photos below.

Raj, our driver, escorted us indoors to be warmly greeted by the owners Mr. Ganapthay and Mr. Sakthivel, his father and his brother. 

The brother, in the process of manufacturing an item.

They were all sitting on a dirt and stone floor performing their craft, a many-step process, some of which we’ve included in today’s photos. They encouraged us to sit in the chairs provided to watch them work, as Mr. Ganapthay explained, in excellent English, how the bronze-making process transpires.

They work while on their bare feet next to scorching items.

At first, we underestimated the magnitude of this ninth generation of family working this fine craft. When Mr. Ganapthay gave us the full tour of his fantastic facility, we were thoroughly expressed by the skill and artful craft of him, his father, his brother, along with his wife’s stunning creations, as shown in more of today’s photos.

Rows upon rows of shelves filled with bronze figures for sale.

To describe the detail in their works in words would be a disservice. Seeing these outstanding works of art in person left an indelible impression that will always stay with us.

Rows upon rows of shelves filled with bronze figures for sale.

If any of our readers consider visiting India, we highly recommend visiting this small but outstanding business with artworks like none other we’ve seen anywhere in the world.

There are rooms filled with artful pieces.

Their family has been in this business for over 650 years, and it’s evident over nine generations, the craft has been honed to perfection along with a powerful sense of artful design and execution.

They will ship any items large and small to anywhere in the world. (The purchaser pays shipping costs, of course).

To reach the hard-working people at this fine business:
Cholan Art Village
No. 46 Rajan Street
Srinivasapuram, Thanjavur. Tamil Nadu, India
Phone: + 91 86100 09448

The walls are lined with beautiful pieces.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to this family for hosting our visit, which proved to be one of our favorite experiences while touring India.

Each work of art has Hindu significance.

Today, with hopefully a better WiFi signal at our following location, yet another corporate-type hotel (for one night only), we’ll be able to get back to work on bookings and planning for the future.

The detail in these large masterpieces is breathtaking.

We continue with hope and prayers that this dreadful virus can soon be behind us, and we can all return to living our lives to the fullest.

Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2019:

Little stopped by for breakfast this morning. Will we see him when we return? For more, please click here.

Last post with Varanasi photos…Visit to a textile company…King of Brocade Weaving Centre…

                           Exquisite handmade silk brocade made on-site at Tiwari International.

We are experiencing awful Wi-Fi issues at the Ramada Hotel in Khajuraho, India. The town is considerably smaller than many we’ve visited over the past three weeks and without a doubt, this is the worse signal we’ve experienced.
The quality of the work is evident in every piece.

For the past several hours, I have been trying, off and on, to complete and upload today’s post about a fantastic silk-weaving facility we visited on our last day in Varanasi.

Neatly arranged shelves with countless fabrics in varying designs and colors.

From time to time, over the past seven-plus years we’ve been traveling, we’ve had an opportunity to describe and subsequently promote a small business we encounter along the way. 

Whether it is a barbershop, gift shop, street vendor, or luxury shop as we describe today, we’ve always enjoyed sharing details with our many worldwide readers.

Shelves are lined with stunning fabrics suitable for the wardrobe for Indian women and men, tourists, and many household goods such as draperies, furniture, bedspreads, pillows, etc.

Should any of you decide to visit Varanasi in the future, the stunning shop is worth a visit. I drooled over the gorgeous Pashmina shawls and scarves and only wished I’d had room in my luggage for one or two.

The staff was busy working with customers.

Unfortunately, after recently paying the airlines for overweight baggage, there was no way I could purchase even the lightest item and have it make sense. Plus, I cannot wear scarves often when I attempt to keep my clothing accessories to a minimum.

But, as we travel throughout India, we find most women, Indians, and tourists wearing scarves and shawls. Once women arrive in India from other countries, they immediately adopt the scarf concept to blend in with the population.

The shop also offered a wide array of ready-made clothing, including scarves and Pashmina shawls.

On the Maharajas Express, we all received no less than eight scarves as gifts at various stations as welcome gifts. I will have no choice but to give them away along the way. No doubt they contributed to my bag being overweight when some of them were pretty heavy.

But, few travelers have the same issue of “traveling light,” and many tourists come to India for shopping which is exceptionally exciting in this land of diversity and color.

The owner escorted us to the fabricating area, where a diligent weaver was hard at work.

Tiwari International appears to be a family-owned business. With the shop so busy when we arrived, we had little time to speak to the owner/manager Keshav Tiwari who was extremely kind and welcoming, even knowing we were “lookers,” not “shoppers.”

He was excited to share that actress Goldie Hawn had recently visited the shop, as he pointed to the framed photo on the wall as shown here in our photo. They were so proud to have a celebrity visit but equally enthused to welcome us.

This photo of actress Goldie Hawn hung on the wall in the shop. The staff was proud she’d come to visit and purchase several products.

We told Keshav about our visit to India and our site and promised him a story with today’s photos as a thank you for showing us around. He couldn’t have been more pleased, as were we.

The quality of their products is breathtaking, and we reveled in every category of cloth he showed us. Of course, we were in awe of the artistry he showed us by one of his workers, diligently at work on a loom. 

The finest of detail went into this lovely brocade, almost completed.

When he explained how time-consuming and deliberate the work is, we were all the more in awe of his massive inventory. Prices are reasonable, and support staff is available to assist in selections.

From their website, the following:

“Banarasi Brocades, as the world knows it, is called by the name kinkab in Varanasi. A high-quality weaving is done using gold and silver threads. Silk Threads are also used as well. The most common motifs include scroll patterns and butidars designs. The other designs are Jewelry designs, birds, animals, flowers, creepers, paisley motifs. Hindu religious and Mughal motifs also influenced brocade designs. When a Gold embellishment is done on a silver background, it is called Ganga-Jamuna in the local language.
This elderly weaver spent long days working at these looms.

The designs are first drawn on paper. The person who draws the layout is called Naqshbandi. The main weaver is assisted by a helper. This design is then woven on a small wooden frame to form a grid of warp and weft. 

The process is slow and painstaking, requiring intense concentration and expertise.

The requisite number of warp threads and the extra weft threads are woven on the loom. The famous tissue sari of Varanasi is unbelievably delicate, combining the use of gold and silver metallic threads.”

It was fascinating to observe the complicated and time-consuming process.
Finally, attention from Keshav was required, and we bid him thanks and good day with a typical Indian hands-together-bow, and we were on our way back out into the crazy traffic of Varanasi.
We had an opportunity to handle this finest of silk made by worms and of great value.

It was delightful, as always, to see how local products are made, adding even more substance and interest to sightseeing outings.

That’s it for today. Now, the challenge of uploading this post. Tomorrow, we’re embarking on an exciting road trip which begins at 8:30 am, taking us to one of our most sought-after adventures in India…eight days of safari in two distinct national parks where we’ll live in camps. Yeah!

Artistic design, coupled with great skill, produces such fine works as this.

Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes. Your kindness means the world to me!