An image representing a classical dancer dancing on s pot

As the world shifts towards a more modernized society, it is rather sad to see some aspects of history slipping away. Technology advancements have made pottery art less practical for production in India, replacing the eroding practice of pottery with machinery and new industrial innovations as a result.

Smt.Geetha Saraswathy,  the Guru of Geethalayam school of Bharatham in Chennai ( shares her Observations and concerns about pottery. “As a little girl, I was always fascinated by the mud pots my family would bring home from India. They were so much more vibrant and beautiful than anything we had in our house!

Bharatanatyam on Pots and the idea of transforming this incredible art to the next generation is what motivates me more.

During my visit to Molela in Rajasthan,the village of  Potters,  a potter exclaimed:

“It is sad that the profession has become a life from hand to mouth for us. It is sad to see that manual and authentic art and culture have been replaced by computer technology and new industrial technologies due to technological advances and rising labour costs”

She added that “Ancient pottery is considered crucial for antiquity, anthropology and archaeology. In fact, the clay tradition dates back to 9,000 — 10,000 BC, when clay vessels were used to store food and water”.

Yes.  Pottery is considered the oldest human species. Sound culture has developed a timeless aesthetic and artistic heritage. However, people’s perspectives and ways of thinking have evolved in parallel with various improvements in the form of proven medicines, systems and materials.

Stages in Pottery:

Pottery consists of six phases that can be completed in a house or a Jatwara. Procurement, grinding, mixing, kneading, throwing on the potter wheel and firing.

Potters initially collect clay from the mined soil in nearby towns and villages in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.

After the ceramic moulds have been formed and fired at high temperatures in order to harden and set them, ceramics are produced.

The material is then crushed like the tyres of a massive vehicle and smashed into tiny fragments.

The fine mixture is mixed with other biodegradable materials such as cow dung, sand and water. This moistens the clay, which is useful for making pots.

This approach determines the service life and longevity of the end product. Knead wedges into the clay to remove air bubbles and make handling easier.

Objects such as DIYas, pots, matkas and wall hangings are produced in such a way that they can be dried, fired, painted and decorated for commercial use.

Potters spin a potter’s wheel to make these objects in any desired shape.

Outsiders can feel this rare bond as they wander the narrow kachcha paths of the villages.

The streets are unique and allow us to see every step of the production process and talk to individual potters, their families and other residents about pottery and their livelihoods.

Each member of the village has a unique story to tell, which contributes to our understanding of how craftsmanship and material talent are interwoven in people’s lives and cultural history.

The potters immersed themselves in the art form at all levels. They regarded pottery as a hobby rather than a job.

Challenges in Recent Days for Pottery:

Due to a lack of state funding, people turned from traditional handicrafts and replaced practical objects made in China such as plastic cups and vessels, and the profession did not allow them to earn a decent living.

The Chinese market has conquered the Indian market, which has led to the decline of the pottery industry.

According to reports, Indian exports to China amounted to about $9 billion in 2015-16, while imports from China totaled a whopping $61.7 billion and left a $52.7 billion trade deficit (Suneja, 2017 ).

Pottery is a seasonal business, culminating in festivals such as Diwali, Maha Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi and Dussehra.

As a result, potters and clay workers are forced to work for a living in other industries such as welding, construction, fiber and steel production and agriculture.

Ironically, today’s potters seem very attached to their craft and don’t want it to disappear anytime soon, and they don’t even want their children to follow in their footsteps.

Indeed, some of them have chosen lucrative careers with multinational companies.

During Diwali potters sell around 10,000 diyas. A small Diya can cost up to Rs.However, their business is inactive for the rest of the year, until May and again until May.

Because these items are sold in large quantities, the average potter earns between 5,000 INR and 6,000 INR a month, which in some cases is not enough to feed a family of eight or more. Potters often do not have access to large markets and are not familiar with the industry.

Interest In Pottery  Is Waning:

Mechanisation appears to be having a negative impact on the employment rate in India, leading to a significant decline in the prospects and commitment of talented professional artists and craftsmen. It is sad to see how manual and authentic art and culture are being displaced by computer technology and new industrial technologies due to technological advances and rising labour costs.

Clay flower pots have been abolished in favour of lighter plastic pots. Whereas people used to store drinking water in clay pots to keep it fresh, today’s generation prefers to get their cold water from refrigerators on the Indian railroad, which used to give potters a lot of work, and their small clay cups served as tea, but these were replaced by disposable plastic cups, the authors write.

Although the fine craft requires a lot of time, effort and capital, it does not appear to be inherently profitable.

Ms.Geetha knows the value of a good pot when she sees one, but it seems that nowadays no-one outside her profession can see them for their worth! From an outsider perspective, pots are just some stuff you put things in and cook food or dance on; they’re much more than that though. Ms Geetha’s assertion is backed up by statistics – youngsters seem to have taken quite the liking to these humble vessels as household décor or even cooking utensils for themselves because according to her “pots give flavour to what they used for be in dance or dish”.

With this interest growing among young people there could be hope yet: our talented craftsmen might finally get what they deserve after all!!!

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