Life of Clay at Kumhar Gram
Kumhar gram or as it is popularly known Potter’s Colony, is a village tucked away in a quite environment of West Delhi amidst of urbanized Delhi. It is home to over 800 potters who made their way from Alwar, Rajasthan and other parts of Uttar Pradesh in search of good business opportunities. Kumhar gram is a thriving village cut off from the rest of the world. These families with no formal training have passed on the art of pottery from generations to generations. Mr. Har Kishan is the head potter in Kumhar gram and is a National award winner (1990), along with him there are many more national award winning potters who live in this village and are unnoticed craftsmen to the world. Har Kishan is also the only potter in the colony who masters the art of ceramic pottery and different techniques of glazing. The other potters in the village follow the traditional pottery style i.e. in terracotta and clay unlike the niche modern Studio Potters.
On these muddy lanes stacked with dry, wet or fired pots and lamps is where the magic of their hands take shape. The artists here create 200 or more lamps and pots each day on their wheel and sell them at a minimum starting cost of Rs.100 depending on the size and intricacy of work. For them, this has usually not been a way of earning money but a way of expressing their art, passion for pottery is what drives them. Some of the major issues that these potters face is infrastructure and the right market to sell their products. The irony is these families make clay pots, lamps, idols and many more things in abundance but face alot of problems mainly financial and no support from the right authority. Inspite of that these families always maintain a smile on their faces, welcome you to their homes with open arms and are always positive towards a better life. There is alot to learn from them not just the art of pottery but indeed about Life itself.
Bindapur, a small area of Uttam Nagar in New Delhi has one of the largest potters community living in the capital. At first there seems nothing unusual about this colony till you explore through the untarred and uneven lanes with houses on both sides and realize they all have one thing in common: each house is stacked with a variety of clay pots and has a potters wheel creating beautiful clay articles. It attracts traders, learners and admirers from different parts of the world, who marvel at the expertise of the potters. All the people in this area are heartwarming, they welcome you home and treat you no less than a family member and their workshops are open to all. Most of these potters migrated from their home state to the capital during the 1970’s. Of late, some residents have been creating glazed pottery, which fetches them a higher price. The craftsmanship is being picked by their children and inside every house in the locality art takes shape out of soil.
Migrated: – Haryana, Bengal, Rajasthan
Community: Kumhar (Prajapati) caste
Size of family: 6 – 10
Style of pottery work: Earthenware – Traditional Terracotta
Types of products made: Traditional pots, matkas, kullars, diyas, idols
of god and goddesses, cups, different size flower pots, money bank.