>> Kumbara (Pottery)

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1.0 Craft Identity

1.1 Name of Craft: Pottery
1.2 Vernacular equivalent: Kumbara
1.3 Craft description: The traditional craft of making handcrafted clay pots on a wheel and baking them in kilns fall under the purview of Kumbara.

2.0 Locations (within study area):
Venkatapura, Halle Mallapanagudi

3.0 Historical overview
Kumbaras or Potters have their origin from a tribe of village menials and could be both Hindu and Muslim. [M.T.Walhouse, 1901, Madras Census report (pg 3465, Vol 12)]

4.0 Works Process
4.1 Seasonality: Throughout the year, except during the rains when it becomes difficult to fire kilns.
4.2: Materials and their origins: Clay was traditionally sourced from the tank bed. Ash and sand were mixed with the clay to make it more pliable.
4.3 Tools: Tigri (wheel) for shaping pots, aagi (kiln) for heating pots and a Podagu (a big pot for water storage).
4.4 Work Pattern: Pots are made in advance for sale. Many villages now buy pots for sale from other areas, as the production of clay pots have ceased in their own village.
4.5 Products: Clay pots and pans, lamps,
4.6 Pricing range: This is an occupation with meagre profits A pot can cost no more than Rs. 50, else it won’t sell.

5.0 Craftsperson’s perspective
The Kumbara interviewed believed that the decline in the craftform was directly related to the steady decline in the use of clay pots as kitchen utensils. People switched over to metal utensils that are more durable and do not need to be replaced regularly, and this has led to a fall in the sale of clay pots and pans.

6.0 Lister’s comments
6.1 Uniqueness: The traditional extraction of clay from tank beds could today be considered as an ecologically beneficial practice that led to the removal of silt from river beds and prepared them for the next monsoon cycle.
6.2 Socio-economic data based on field interviews: Most individuals interviewed fell under the BPL category, suggesting a low socio-economic background. They also tended to belong to the Scheduled Castes and backward sections of society.

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