Monday, March 19, 2007

An antique washing machine.

The caption to this excellent photo by its creator, Mr. Medhekar, reads, “I saw this quaint hand-driven washing machine abandoned on the premises of the Parayil Tharakan's ancestral home at Olavipe. It has provision for lighting a coal fire (presumably for hot water) and a handle to turn the drum.”

We don’t know when and where it was made and when it came to the house. My memory of it goes back sixty five or so years. I think it was a present from Mariamma, the elder among Appan’s two sisters. She was married to Dr. Jacob Taliat who retired as Surgeon General of Travancore (a Maharaja’s state in what is now Kerala). They stayed mostly at Trivandrum, the state capital, where the latest and the best imported things were available.

The clothes for washing were to be kept in the drum, which has several holes. Water was to be boiled in a tray below it. The steam would pass into the chamber through the holes and excess would escape through the funnel. The handles would be rotated to tumble the wash.

I think those would have been the operating instructions. I’ve never seen it working and I don’t think any body else has, at Olavipe.

In a house teeming with servants, a mechanical contraption to wash clothes was not required, really!


Arkay Em said...

Dear Mr. Abraham Tharakan,

I am the one who took the photograph of the old washing machine at the Parayil Tharakan Tharavad at Olavipe. Some of the other photographs I took while I was there can be seen at:-

Articles by Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you sir. Your photographs are great.
Abraham Tharakan.