Reviving A Forgotten Metal-1: A Series on the traditional Kansa metal
Kansa is a metal that we as a generation probably do not recognize. It sets a nostalgic tone by our parents. When our parents were growing up, plastic had made an appearance into the market. Overpowering ceramic, glass, steel, and of course, Kansa metal, which quickly became a relic of the past. This article series reflects on the current situation of this long-forgotten metal. Let’s have a look at ‘Reviving A Forgotten Metal-1: A Series on the traditional Kansa metal’.
Firstly, on the making of Kansa and its relationship with our health, according to both modern science and Ayurvedic principles. Secondly, on the conditions of Kansa workers, where they are, and their social and economic circumstances. Thirdly, we will discuss how the current discourse on sustainability. And the environment is in close relationship with the revival of Kansa. Also how we can rebrand it to suit the needs of the current consumer base, including younger people.
Part 1 What is Kansa and How Is It Made?
Kansa is a name of Indian bell-metal or bronze, which, in the state of Assam, it is known as Kanh. Kanchu in Kannada, it is used for cooking and eating utensils. Sarthebari in Barpeta district of Assam holds a unique place in the production of kanh utensils. In Assam, utensils of Kanh have many religious uses. The most unique utensils, bata and banbati, to give offerings and puja. Or to show respect to honored guests and dignitaries. Kansa is an alloy which is a 4:1 proportion of copper and tin, typically 78% copper and 22% tin. It is over three thousand years old, in use since the Golden Age of Ayurveda: the Samhita Kala, a testament to our heritage and our roots.
To make Kansa, copper and tin are heated together for 400 -700 degree Celsius to form bronze. The metal, now molten, is then made into sheets. Utensils are polished manually with traditional substances such as sand and tamarind juice. Kansa is a malleable metal in itself, and hence, the prepared alloy can acquire different kinds of finishes — matt or glossy, depending on the consumer’s aesthetic preferences.
Kansa and Our Health
Ayurveda Prakasha is one of the important ancient texts on ancient Indian Alchemy by Shrimad Madhava Upadhyaya in circa 16th-17th century AD, which provides ample statements about the health benefits of Kansa. In the Sanskrit alchemical work “ Rasaratna Samucchaya,” there is significant information about the healing properties on Kansa.
Kansaware plates, glasses, and cutlery used to be a staple in households across India, and if one is thinking of discarding plasticware because of its health and environmental aspects, Kansa is the best metal to which you should make the switch, because of its sustainable nature and health properties.
Metals like copper and brass react with sour and salty food to form chemical compounds which are harmful to our body. However, Kansa metal does not react, which is why it is safe to cook and eat in. In the 5th century, Ayurvedic scientist Charaka says that eating and cooking in Kansa utensils. Balance the body’s pH level. In Sanskrit, the phrase “ Kansyam Buddhivardhakam, “ refers to the belief that Kansa sharpens our intellect and calms our minds. Not only that, but it is also a metal which boosts energy as well.
Water Stored In Kansa
Water stored in Kansa pots does not go stale. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, water which is stored in Kansa for eight hours has the ability to correct and balance all three “doshas” present in our body. The tridosha theory says that our body contains “ Vata,” “ Pitta” and “ Kapha.” Each dosha, if unbalanced, can lead to specific ailments and health problems. For example, deranged “Vata” can lead to pain, causing gout or rheumatism; unbalanced “Pitta” can lead to digestion problems, and unbalanced “Kapha” can lead to flu and lung diseases.
Drinking and eating from copper vessels fulfils the requirement of important copper trace metals for the optimal functioning of thyroid glands. Copper also reduces inflammation and improves haemoglobin, since it has vital medicinal and healing properties, which the food or water kept in it acquires. It is the key component in the production of melanin helping in restoring healthy skin, and also reduces the wrinkling of the skin. Additionally, it helps in breaking down and eliminating fat, aiding in weight loss for people who want to lose weight. Copper, and therefore Kansa, also helps in cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of anaemia by regulating blood pressure.
Kansa is not only a metal which reflects our history, but it is also extremely beneficial for our health and wellness. A switch to Kansa is essentially a lifestyle change. For a healthier, calmer, and more joyful life, eating in Kansa can prove to be a catalyst. Call it Ayurveda, or science, or even the Placebo Effect if you are a sceptic, a switch to the bell-metal will have welcome effects on your life which you will not end up regretting in the future.
For the next article of this series, we will take a look at the people who create this beautiful metal, if they are getting their due, or if they are struggling. This article series’ aims is to create awareness amongst the public. That is because Kansa is not only metal, it is rather an experience, a culture, and a way of life.