Tambool Collection

Pan-chewing and Tobacco-eating are peculiar in India. The reference of Tambool Tradition is found in the “Charaka Samhita”. The practice is referred to also in Skanda Purana, Kamasutra of Vatsayana and Brihat Samhita of Varaha Mihira. In medieval period the Tambool materials are picturised in the miniature paintings.

The betel leaf and betel nut are main items in the Tambool material. The importance of betel leaf and nut is impressed in the Ritual and social life/ system. The box or tray of betel leaf and nut is put up for welcoming the Guests and in wedding ceremony. In ancient period ‘Wida’ is a symbol of love and sex. There are many medicament items in the Wida. Narayan Wida and Thirteen-mark Wida have a special importance in Tambool tradition.

Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, has displayed the tambool materials used in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and South India belonging to 17th to Early 20th Century A.D.

  • Nut Cutters - The museum has about 400 Nut Cutters in its collection – Birds and Animal shaped, foreign, Bidri, simple and erotic nut – cutters are included in the collection. Bidri Nut Cutters have design of leaves and flowers on it. Ghunguroos or bells are used on some nut-cutters for twinkling music. Radha – Krishna, Sheshashayee Vishnu and Kinnari nut-cutters are noteworthy.
  • Pandan/ Betel Boxes - The metal betel boxes are found in various sizes and shapes. The motives of leaves, flowers, fruits, human beings, fish, tortoise and parrots embelish the betel boxes. There are also beautiful and netted Meena works for the betel boxes. Tribal betel boxes are marvellous.
  • Catechu Pill Box - The Catechu Pills are kept in the stomach of a metal fish, which is netted.
  • Lime Containers – The Lime Containers are well-designed and artistic. These containers are found in different shapes like animals, birds, fruits, fish, elephant, tortoise, swan, etc... The Lime Stick is also decorated.
  • Pouches – The Pouches of two, three, four, five compartments are made of cloth and beads. Betel leaves and Nut, Catechu and Lime Container are kept inside the Pouch. Particularly the ladies hang these Pouches on the lower garment.
  • Spittoon - Spittoons are some kind of vessels for spitting the betel juice. Brass and Bidri spittoons are used in South India and Maharashtra. The Mughal Tradition has given rise to this practice.

 Ancient Indian Tradition has developed a particular device to utilise a kind of round vessel with a lid made of metal or soil in order to collect the mouth-spitting which could be thrown out later for cleaning purposes. These Spittoons were mostly used in the courts of the royal families and high middle class rulers as a part of the descent culture.

The famous Naishadhiya Charita composed by Shri Harsha in the 7th Century A.D. mentions the spittoons as a favour made to Vishvakarma by Lord Indra, which was later on in turn presented by him to warrior Bhima (Pandava) and then to king Nala of the epics.

The device in fact belonged to the habit of chewing the betel-leaf possibly with such ingredients as the Tobacco etc. which would not be swallowed and hence to be thrown out.

The Kamsutra dealing with erotic and sexual aspect of Indian culture enumerates spittoon as one of the essentials of a king or a queen. We have enormous representation of spittoons in the miniature paintings of different schools.

The Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum has a very good collection of spittoons in the section KM-5 of the Betel-leaf Boxes. Some of them belonging to the last but one century A.D. have been designed in the Bidari Art of studding the silver-wire in the body of the vessel. Normally it contains two parts the lower vessel and a lid having holes with handle to lift it up and open. The spittoon forms a part of material given away as present along with the bride.

Smoking Pipes      

People of India knew about the tobacco-smoking and it's intoxicative aspect early in the 17th century A.D.  At the end of the 17th Century the farmers were well- acquainted with the growing of tobacco by agriculture. India, in fact, was recognised as the third in the international community as cultivator of tobacco.  The smoking of other intoxicating drugs as aphim etc. was popularly known.  The system of Indian Medicine (Ayurveda) had already advised the intake of some medicinal drugs through smoking for curing some diseases in the early centuries in history.

The Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum has displayed a number of small and big pipes emphasizing the importance and use of tobacco-smoking. They were made either of baked earth or of wood or of metal or of marble.  The motifs of elephant trunk, tiger face and crocodile were highly appreciated hailing from South and middle India. The five-faced smoking pipe here is very charming as it was used by many at one time.