Hand­i­craft

A Spout-less Pas­toral Churn

ABHA - - Contents -

Ev­ery pas­toral com­mu­nity of the Hi­malayas rel­ishes but­ter and but­ter tea. The com­mu­ni­ties use sim­i­lar churns for both. Even so the ma­te­rial used for and the dec­o­ra­tion on the de­vice re­flect re­gional fla­vors.

They em­ploy metal mainly for dec­o­ra­tions and adding strength. Each fam­ily owns at least one 3-4-foot high cylin­dri­cal ap­pli­ance.

Indian Hi­malayan com­mu­ni­ties from Jammu and Kash­mir (JK), Hi­machal Pradesh, Ut­tarak­hand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh; and those from Nepal and Ti­bet make churns of dif­fer­ent types of metal and / or wood.

JK de­signs the churns with wil­low wood. The lid and up­per and lower parts are wrapped in brass or cop­per plates adorned with flow­ered and fo­liaged mo­tifs. Arunachal crafts churns from bam­boo. They em­ploy metal mainly for dec­o­ra­tions and adding strength. Each fam­ily owns at least one 3-4-foot high cylin­dri­cal ap­pli­ance.

Ti­betans and Spi­tians call their churns dong­mos. Ladakhis dub the ap­pli­ance gur­gur af­ter gur­gur tea, the name of but­ter tea in Ladakh, be­cause

churn­ing pro­duces sound of gur­gur.

A dongmo is used to pre­pare but­ter tea hav­ing con­sis­tency of a soup. The sim­ple recipe re­quires two steps: (1) Pour hot boil­ing tea in a dongmo. (2) Add but­ter, salt, and yak milk and spin it with the wooden stick. Serve the brew hot.

But­ter is also made in a dongmo, a tube type blend­ing de­vice and churn. The churn con­sists of three parts: a main ves­sel, dasher (stick), and small lid with a hole for the dasher. A round disk sits at the bot­tom of the but­ter churn dasher. These hand­made con­tain­ers also fea­ture strong straps for dis­play­ing it on the home walls and ease of trans­porta­tion. The churns are crafted in dif­fer­ent sizes and weights.

The dasher is moved up and down dur­ing but­ter mak­ing. The spout-less churn is tilted and the con­tent is stirred with the stick while brew­ing the tea.

Info Bytes Vari­ants of Spellings

Dongmo, Dongbo

Tips

You can buy a dec­o­rated col­or­ful dongmo for your home walls.

Pho­tog­ra­phy

Au­gust 2019

Churns from Maneyo­gma, Spiti. The short blue churn is lighter than the long brown one.

The dasher and the lid

Dec­o­ra­tive Bud­dhist (re­li­gious) mo­tif on the dongmo

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