Amazed by the Potter

 

Spectators swarmed the live pottery stall at the Botanical Garden I was visiting yesterday. They sneaked and peeped from all possible ways to get a view of the potter. Many stood behind the crowd waiting for their turn when the crowd dispersed.

He sat there in front of the big round potter’s wheel or charkha as they call it and the pile of soft wet clay. His hands were covered in mud, yet it increased their beauty. Although the crowd whispered, awed and took videos, he continued to focus on making pots. There was a smile on his face and his eyes were lit with the joy and pleasure it gave him.

His hands moved softly and embraced the clay giving it a perfect texture and shape. The single depression at a particular position changed the shape of the entire thing. He made vases, rice bowls, lids and pots. The finished potteries were left to dry outside under the sun. ‘This is not yet ready for sale’, he said. Although, to me, it looked like a perfect finish. The light-brown coloured pots reflected the light that fell on them. He explained that they further make designs on them, paint them and provide different textures if required using the impressions of their fingers among other things.

clay-potter

I never thought that the audience would give such a response to that stall. We all are surrounded with the imported and factory-produced goods all the time. We choose the embroidery done with machine, the plastic pots for gardening, printed nylon clothes to khadi, and leather handbags to jute.  We are ready to pay them without a second thought because they have a brand name, quality and recognition in the market. On the other hand, the handicraft goods often seem costly.

We tend to overlook the creativity of a potter. Many of the handicraft goods require excellent precision and practice. Every single piece of pottery or embroidery requires unflinching attention of the producer. Also, it takes a longer time to complete a product for sale. It requires a lot of manual labour as well as mental labour to come up with new designs.

The world does not value manual labour now as it did in the past. Compared to the several hours spent in completing one particular handicraft, the pay is very less. We often seem to underestimate the effort that is put behind a particular piece of art. Nevertheless, tremendous efforts are being made now to re-establish the market of handicrafts. A number of NGOs and government is making effort to give them space to showcase their talents. As a result, even new designs are coming up which can be easily dwelled in with the present trendy and modern lifestyle.

Did you know that coir could be used to make trays, plates and even cup stands? I did not know until I saw it being sold. One stall was only selling these handmade coir products. The market of handicrafts is flourishing with such new handicrafts. You can now p1find furniture varying from classic to contemporary; the pots in different shapes and designs; clothes with new patterns and designs. They never fail to amaze you.

I feel handicraft culture across India needs recognition. The artisans, potters, embroiderers, and various other artisans preserve the great culture of Indian Handicrafts.  They must be recognized in the market where people show interest in buying these products. Also, they must receive adequate pay for their efforts. Once we start giving due attention to the efforts and the beauty that they represent, we will never be tired of the newness they bring to us. We must acknowledge that the range of varieties is gradually increasing. They bring to us utilities, decors, trays, platters, crockery, stoles, scarves, lights, decorative, fabrics, clocks as well as jewellery.

I believe that if one loves art and craft, one must take a step towards bringing these beautiful items from the roadside inside our homes. Every state in India produces special products of art, which are unique in their own way. It cannot be done by a machine. If we lose these skills to the factories now, we might lose them forever. Therefore, there is an urgent need to encourage the art forms of India and prevent them from getting extinguished. Unravel India is one tiny step in this direction.

Anupa Sagar Kujur

 

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