Functional pottery, Indian style

young potter lo

In Rajasthan, just as city merchant districts can have streets full of nothing but bathroom fittings or paper ream shops (Old Delhi is a stunning example of this premise), out in the sticks you can come across an entire village of potters.  While this seems a little economically skewed to Western eyes, it seems to work well enough here. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into the homestead of one young potter who is in business with his brother in the potters’ village of Thikarda, an easy bike ride from Bundi…

young potter 2 lo

Yikes – here I am being put to the test with the end of the clay in front of the entire family, a bit daunting on an unfamiliar set up. I notice I use a lot more water than he needed to.

put to the test

The simplicity is stunning – here an electric wheel sits on the verandah of a family farmhouse.  In the yard stands a huge wood-fired kiln area, walled and surrounded by masses of broken pots, used to top the firing and keep the heat in. He demonstrated some of his smaller wares, throwing a range of pots off a large hump of clay.  Here the finishing is quick, basic and decisive – and all potters across the state make identical objects, in the local traditional style. Below is a shot of his store of water jars; and two shots of traditional water pots in use: one standing outside a house in Jaisalmer, the others outside a fort in Kesroli, ready for people to dip into. These are the main output of potters such as the chappie above. The water pots are actually thrown as large straight-sided jars and then beaten out to be cylindrical, with a wooden bat and stones inside to create these enormous pot-bellied traditional water containers.

water pots

jaisalmer pot lo
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