The Art of Home Made Pottery

Tucked away in the small inland river town of Rivona, a small community of 50 still earn their livelihood by sculpting the soil of Mother Earth. In Shigoi Kumbar Wada, the ancient art of hand-made pottery is still practiced by a few men of the oldest living generation. The younger villagers have opted for more modern, ‘prestigious’ occupations, thus this art in this place seems destined to become a historical memory. But for now it lives on through men like Vishnu Shetkar, whose skilled hands mold perfectly symmetrical clay pots using methods whose origins are lost in antiquity.

 

In the morning, the women go into the fields to collect special ‘stones’ used in the preparation of clay. These stones are pounded into powder, which is then mixed with water and then heaped into piles whose size depends on the final product. The men, using manual pottery wheels, spin the clay with dexterity to create pots and lids of various sizes which are kept in the sun for drying. In the final step, the pottery is covered with hay and mud and baked overnight over low fire. Once ready, the pots are taken to markets around Goa as well as the Zatras of special Temples situated throughout the hinterland of Goa.

Though a time-honored profession and one that brings in Rs.200 per pot, the younger generation, craving a more modern lifestyle, has opted for more education and office jobs in neighboring cities. Though the pay is less, they find the prestige awarded them by society more appealing then the occupation of their fathers. Pottery-making in this village seems destined for extinction, but for the next few years at least visitors to this place will be hypnotized by the rhythmic spinning of the wheel and the dexterous hands of the artisans which seemingly without effort mold Mother Earth into simple but elegant creations of man.

Article & Photography by
Karin Larsen
[Fullbright Research Student]