A look at an ancient craft

 By  Faisal Magray

Having served Kashmiri homes for centuries, traditional earthen pottery might soon become a thing of the past. Pottery took the shape of indigenous Kashmiri art and some people adopted it as a profession. Pottery is one such art, which was once very popular in Kashmir. The people, who are associated with this art, are called Kral (in kashmiri ) and (Potter in english).

Hundreds of people were, once, associated with this trade and products made by them were used for domestic purpose. The potter used to make numerous utensils with different designs  in their workshop. It is a wheel driven by hands. In the middle of it is placed a lump of clay from which pots are made. When desired pot is ready, it is then detached from the wheel by a special thread called kralpan (in kashmiri). From large vessels to miniature cups, they are first baked in the potters miniature kiln and then decorated. After then they are carried to the adjacent village markets where they are sold.

In Nishat, Srinagar, the locality of Kral Sangri was known for pottery making. Young and old in each family would make earthen pots. However, now only a few families make these earthen utensils in the entire locality. Pottery, once the main source of income for many, is now a closed chapter the inhabitants do not want to return to. During the past few decades these earthen pots have been replaced with aluminium, plastic and steel products, affecting the livelihood of a large number of artisans engaged in the trade.

However the tradition of using these items is fading away. It has forced the people, who are involved in this business, to look for alternatives as the demand for these items is declining. They have closed their workshops. Their condition is not good  they are living a miserable life. The golden hands which once chiseled marvels of soil have been neglected. These craftsmen have been deceived by their own ancestral art because it did not stand the assault of machine made utensils.

             The pots are shaped on the wheel. Potters’ hands work like machines they shape utensils    effortlessly.

         A potter softens hard mud by mixing it with a substantial amount of water, which is then bound  into a carpet of mud.

                               The potter cuts the mud balls into desired shapes before putting them on the wheel.

                                     The clay is placed on a heavy wheel, which is rotated manually by the potter.

                                              The final touches are made after the pots dry under the sun.

 The potter used to make numerous utensils with different designs  in their workshop. It is a  wheel driven by hands. In the middle of it is placed a lump of clay from which pots are made.

                                               The pots are designed after being removed from the wheels.

                                              The pots are painted and then taken to the nearby village to be sold.