The art of pottery in Kashmir is at the verge of extinction

Mohammad Ashraf

The valley of Kashmir do possess a global fame not only because of its scenic beauty but also because of its skilled workers and artisans .The hand woven shawls of Kashmir are liked globally .Our carpet industry has a unique identity throughout the globe. Our other crafts like paper-machie and woodcarving are acknowledged throughout the world for its fineness and delicacy .Besides these arts and crafts our art of making pottery had a unique fame as well. The art of pottery has a long history. The people of Kashmir have been using pottery since time immemorial .It has been proved through excavations at sites of Burzoham and Gufkral that the people have been using poetry since 5000 years ago. The pieces of baked clay is an ample evidence of the fact that the profession of pottery is an old profession of the valley. Our potters do carve portrayed pots out of clay. They have mesmerising art in shaping these pots into different designs. The potters after making different pots and wares do bake them in traditional furnaces. After baking the pottery is ready for its use.
In recent past the people of the vale used to live in financial constraints .They had limited means of survival. They had no access to the modern substances for survival .With the advent of modern technology new things and gadgets came in rescue of man. The traditional art and work got a big jolt hence many arts and works which used to possess prime importance got extinct. Ours art of pottery also bore the same brunt. In past due to scarce means of survival people used to utilize the indigenous things in fulfilling their needs. They used to take meals in clay-made wares. Even cups and glasses were of pottery art. Apart from making kitchenware the potters used to make water boilers. The clay pots were of great demand in past. Its market used to be a sound means of livelihood for a good chunk of population. The potters used to live a sound and prosperous life as their business of pottery used to be lucrative .They used to be happy with this profession. However this amazing work art is dying with the passage of time. The potters have become disillusioned of this work as it fetched them less income. They have adopted other professions as they get lucrative incomes out of them. The pottery business had a great demand on some special occasions viz marriages , festivities etc. But the supplant of crockery brought miseries to this business. In this fabricated advanced era we do shy in bringing pottery in use for our daily needs as a result we do complicit in strangulating this art. In Kashmir people used to prepare pickles in earthen pots but its place has been taken by the plastic ones.
The art of pottery is an aura of our culture. The need of hour is to revive this art. Those who are associated with this art should be encouraged. The market for these goods has to be created. The masses can be persuaded in order to use the earthen wares instead of wares made of copper and steel. The people should be made aware of health benefits of using pottery as kitchen ware. Our shelves should be adorned with earthen wares as well. The pottery wares have one more major benefit of being non toxic for humans as well as for other animals. They are also cheap. If we will resuscitate this art we can become economically sound and can get many unemployed youths absorbed. We have to mould ourselves in accordance with that of the latest changes and developments but not at the cost of our cultural ethos and traditions. It’s high time to revamp this art on latest lines and trends.
The writer is teacher and can be reached at mohd454679@gmail.com