10 Classic Newari Tools That You Probably Didn’t Know About
Newari Tools, not only their culture, but they also have a variety of tools.
Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools, he is nothing, with tools he is all.\Thomas Carlyle
And let’s be honest, we are all about using tools. Human beings are surprisingly weak when it comes to doing anything. We don’t have the protection of fur nor the attack ability of sharp teeth or claws – maybe this is why the use of tools has seeped into every aspect of our lives, especially culture.
Every civilizations and culture around the world have their own unique set of tools developed as per their specific needs. Newari culture is not so different either. Since the time of their origin, Newari has developed their own set of tools unique to their culture.
Here we will take a look at some of the iconic Newari tools.
1) Khamu (खमु:)
Commonly known as Kharpan in Nepali, this is one of the simplest and iconic Newari tools out there. Made from a strong stick where two baskets are tied with strings on each end, this is a tool meant for carrying and transporting materials.
Now, this is an important tool for Newari people even to this day. It is simple to make, cheap to repair, and is a valuable asset while farming. And as you may have guessed, a lot of Newari sti0ll practice farming. While they do use modern ways, some of the traditional methods are still kept intact – just like the use of Khamu.
2) Kuu (कू:)
Sticking with the theme of farming, this is one of those Newari tools that is a bit unique to this culture. We say “a bit unique” because while you can find similar tools all over Nepal, the shape and the usage a unique to Newars.
Kuu is basically a modified “hoe” that is meant for digging. The only issue is, Kuu doesn’t dig the ground but rather cuts the soil into thick chunks which are later beaten by the tool called “Khatamuga”. This enables the farmer using Kuu to focus solely on removing the soil layers which makes the whole process more efficient.
3) Khatamuga (खाता:मुग:)
In simple terms, Khatamuha is basically a wooden mallet meant for breaking apart thick chunks of soil. This Newari tool is light and is meant to be exclusively used for farming in conjunction with the “Kuu”.
Khatamuga is a rather rare sight nowadays due to the invention of more efficient ways to break the soil but it was an integral Newari tool of any farmer a few decades back.
Traditionally, the elders of the household use Kuu to break cut the soil and the younger members break the pieces while farming. This breaks down the plowing of the field into smaller chunks, making it more efficient.
4) Fownsi (फोवंसी)
Fownsi is one of the most iconic of the Newari tools. This is a copper utensil that is mostly used in the preparation of the Newari alcohol “Aila”.
During the process of making “Aila” Fownsi is placed at the bottom. It holds the “Ka” (fermented beaten rice) which is later then heated for the distillation process. While this is the primary function of Fownsi, many people also use this Newari tool to store rice grains. Since this utensil is made from copper, has antimicrobial properties which make it perfect to store the grains.
5) Patasi (पटासी)
No this is not where “Patasi” of “Hakupatasi” comes from but this is one of the most important Newari Tools out there. That being said, this is also one of the tools used while brewing Aila.
This is a large clay pot with big round holes at its bottom. If you are wondering what is the use of a pot with holes, it is used to let the steam pass through the holes while supporting the “Gullu”.
6) Gullu (गुल्लु)
This is the final Newari tool that we will be mentioning here related to brewing the Aila. Gullu is basically a clay pot that collects the Aila after it has been distilled. The classic design of Gullu has a wide opening at the top and a smaller one at the side enabling easy pouring. It has a small height with a wide base that perfectly first inside Patasi.
Now while this is a traditional Newari tool meant for collecting the alcohol, in modern times, people have opted this out for more convenient aluminum pots.
7) Bhajan (भाजं:)
This is a classic Newari tool that is widely in use to this day. The main reason for this may be due to its cultural and culinary significance. While the tool itself is not all that special, its use is.
Bhajan is simply a large iron disk with a simple handle. This simple-looking tool is used to cook Wa: and Chatamari- two of the classic Newari dish.
As a side note, Bhajan is usually paired with Kapan (कपं:) which is just a clay lid.
8) Twarwa (त्वार्वा)
Is the name of this Newari tool hard to pronounce? Yes! But is it a simple concept? Also yes!
For those who are wondering what this tool does, it is a better version of the Diyo, Twarwa is basically a bronze stand that is adorned with exquisite motifs of Hindu gods and serpents meant to hold as a source of light during a lot of ceremonies.
While the majority of Twarwa are ceremonial, there are also practical versions of this tool that are meant to hold candles. These simpler versions are made from clay and you can easily see them during the Newari Festival “Mat-tyaa”
This is a rather simple Newari Tool. It is just a flat piece of steel bar with a sharp blade on one end and a pointed edge on another end. Chhalancha was the nail cutters of the Newai people back in the days. The blade was used to cut the nails and the pointed end was used to clean the nails.
Although using “was” may not be exactly right here as this tool is still used in modern times- albeit limited. There is a requirement for Newari people to cut a small piece of their toenails using this tool during a lot of rituals. After cutting nails via this too, it is customary to wear Ala one’s feet as well.
10) Kaki (ककी)
We began this list with farming tools so it is only appropriate to end it with one of the most common Neawari tools used for farming. This is basically a small farming pick meant to dig the ground on a smaller scale.
Since a lot of people still are farmers or at the very least do gardening to this day, this is among those few Neawari tools that have stood the test of time. For those who don’t know, Newari has two names for their farm “Bu” for larger ones and “Keba” for the smaller ones. While both of these are basically the same kaki is mostly for farming in Keba.
These are some of the well-known and most common Traditional Newari tools out there. While the basic concept of these tools is not unique to the Newari culture, the tool themselves are. That being said, a lot of the tools that we have mentioned here are rarely seen nowadays. The reasons for their disappearance vary ranging from availability of better tools to loss of culture.
Regardless of that, these tools are a part of our culture and we should preserve what remains of the traditional Newari tools.
Hope you found this interesting. If you have any suggestions for us, do let us know in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading till the end.