Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Punka, Punka, Punka, Punka

Back in the olden days after Pong and before Mario Brothers I loved to sit in various establishments with a cool beverage and play game after game of Centipedes, Asteroids, and Pac Man. I loved that noise the Pac Man game made as the little man raced around the maze eating up the dots….punka, punka, punka, punka and so on.

So what’s my trip down memory lane have to do with last week's wordless entry?

I've posted the image again with this post (see above). A punka is a wooden ( in this case mahogany) fan that was used over planter’s dining tables to keep the flies away as well as provide a cool breeze.

The punka originated in India as was usually a palm frond type of fan or a piece of cloth that was waved back and forth by a servant. I had heard about punkas but had never seen one until Dear Hubby and I toured a few homes in Natchez, Mississippi. They were lovely pieces of wood. Dear Hubby was quite alarmed by the punka at Merose when he noticed how heavy it must be and that was hanging over priceless antique table as well irreplaceable original china. One loose screw and…….perish the thought!

This picture (to the left) is an older picture of the Melrose diningroom with folks still lived in the home. One website mentioned that even as late as the 1940s former slaves would attend the family and pull the cord that powered the punka.

Here is a another view of the Melrose dining room....notice the cord hanging on the back of one of the chairs.












Below is a punka from a different Natchez, Missippi home....this image is the dining room at Linden.


Punkas weren't exclusive to the Mississippi Delta either...this image is from a home in Virgina, but it appears to be made of cloth or possible paper.



9 comments:

MorningSong said...

I didn't know it was called Punka but I did know the use! YEAH!! That was fun - I feel smart. :o) Have a great day.

NYC Educator said...

Hmmm...good thing except for the person whose job it is to move it. Nowadays, they'd probably make teachers do it on their free periods.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Punka! I shall add that delightful word to my ever-growing vocabulary. Thank you!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Morningsong, the most important responsiblity of a teacher is to take his/her student feel smart. I'm glad I met my responsibility!

NYC....that was the only aspect of the punka that bothered me. Especially when I learned that even as late as the 40s servants still fanned the family. AND after completing the two page checklist of end-of-the-year duties during our postplanning I feel as if I've been made to pull the punka cord!

CTG, I'm glad you are out visitin'. I'm sure if you end up in Arizona a punka might come in handy.

teacher of one said...

They have these in the Dixie Landings Resort at Disney World... although they were electric. I found a picture in my photo album with the caption "This is a picture of the lobby with it's giant fans. I never knew they had a proper name! I really enjoy your Wednesdays!

Christie

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

That's very interesting that Disney has punkas. Some things do survive the passage of time. I'm glad you enjoy my Wednesdays. The process helps me learn things as well.

teacher of one said...

OT- Tag your it! I would love to know what you're reading.

Christie

Strausser said...

Living in Phoenix I have a true appreciation and love for all things "fan" - anything that helps you stay cool is pretty darn kewl!

As for the start of your entry about the old school video games - boy did a flood of memories come back reading that! One of the best moves I ever made in high school was to date this girl whose father actually owned an arcade and so every day after school that she was working, I would be the loving boyfriend and come see her (and play hours of games with free token quarters!)

Strausser...

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

The loving boyfriend, eh?