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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Soap Nuts and Elephant Ears

Much has been achieved in the course of the renovation and cleaning efforts undertaken in recent years in Janabahaa. Perhaps the most visibly striking result so far is the polishing of the Halampo (gilded copper repousse banners) hanging from the lower roof on the eastern face of the temple.

Age-old local techniques were used to remove the decades-old dirt (see earlier blog post entitled “Glitter under the Grime: Citrus Juice to the Rescue”). To give finishing touches to the cleaning job, two more home-grown commodities were used.

Hathan (Rittha or Soap Nuts). Scientific name Sapindus mukorossi. This natural soap is a locally grown product, and has been used traditionally as a natural cleanser.

Fakan (Karkalo or Elephant Ear/Taro). Scientific name Colocasia esculenta. The Elephant Ear plant grows in abundant quantities in the valley during the monsoon, and is used widely as a nourishing and tasty vegetable. The huge leaves of the plant is dried in the sun and boiled in water. The resulting liquid is applied on the soap-nut washed metal surface to bring out the rich glitter.

Finally, acrylic epoxy spray is applied on the surface for waterproofing.

The brilliantly-polished and waterproof Halampo will now hopefully remain so for the next few years, after which the whole process will need to be repeated.

Photos by Alok Tuladhar.


Anonymous said...

Elephan Ear Plan, interesting. I am wondering is there a place that i can get it. I use only natural products (for cleaning anf other needs). Thanks for the informal article.
after builders cleaning

Astha Tuladhar said...

Wow such a wonderful clean up. This is amazing! Also visit

Jeffrey said...

OMG that's a great effect. They should do it for other restorations. After Builders Cleaning.