Bhaktapur’s Pottery: Art, culture and tradition moulded in one

You’ll be transported back in time when you see all the beautiful clay pots, cups and vases displayed in the sun

31, Oct 2022 |

Bhaktapur’s traditional pottery industry has endured westernisation’s temptations

We spent most of our childhood crafting miniature utensils out of clay and playing with them as they dried in the sun. Now that we are all adults, we don’t have the time or room to play with clay. If you visit Bhaktapur Pottery Square, you’ll be transported back in time to see all the beautiful clay pots, cups and vases displayed in the sun. You’ll also see people making the vessels—a few teaching how to make them and a few learning how to make them.

It’s impressive to create something out of clay on your first attempt with the help of professionals at Bhaktapur Pottery Square. No matter how hasty the pottery looks, it might be one of the most enjoyable experiences you have ever had.

One entire planet exists in the pottery square. The traditional ceramic industry has endured westernisation’s temptations in Bhaktapur. They put so much effort into upholding their tradition and always smile for the camera, for the touristy region they operate in.

The primary reason Bhaktapur ceramics are regarded as superior to those produced elsewhere is that they frequently utilise black clay, also known as ‘Dyo Cha’, which literally translates to ‘clay of god’ and is only found in Bhaktapur. It is claimed to have a flexible character and to be the best type of mud for ceramics. The Prajapatis of Bhaktapur can only dig it once a year. Since workers must dig deeper than 10 to 12 feet, it is a dangerous and challenging job that could potentially be life threatening. The entire process of manufacturing pottery is more complicated than it first appears, particularly in Nepal, where every piece has its roots in culture and is entirely governed by traditions and standards that must be adhered to.

Seeing so many generations of a family working together is remarkable. Pottery is a method. Everyone contributes to the making of a pot in some way. Older women take care of the pots maintained for drying and colouring while older men, the skilled professionals, transform the mud into magnificent vessels in minutes. Young ladies are regularly beating and processing the clay, while the young men frequently move the bulky piles of mud from one area of the plaza to another.

Nothing in pottery square can replace the experience. It appears to be incredibly simple when the potters transform the damp black mud cones into polished containers. It seems they possess the power to make anything from clay at times. Most artisans still employ traditional methods today since they have been passed down from generation to generation.

Although equipment and tools used by potters have changed recently, most potters still use simple tools. The potters must ensure that the authenticity of the mid-vessels they have been creating since the dawn of time doesn’t change, whether they use sophisticated equipment or simple tools.

Due to the declining market value and the meagre government backing, the industry has received, Nepal’s pottery's future is uncertain, making parents hesitant to include their children in the family company they have been running for generations.

The pottery square appears to be running more effectively than ever and has risen stronger than ever. However, efforts at the local and national levels will be required to bring back Bhaktapur’s famous pottery squares.

Compiled By: Rebika Bishokarma

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