The Great India Potter – Esther David

Early morning, even as I was having tea and reading about the ban on plastic items in the newspaper, I could hear a matka-seller passing by, beating a tune on a matka with a ringed finger, almost a Ghatam player. As, it is the perfect timing to introduce clay kulhars to serve tea in roadside kitlis, instead of those wobbly plastic cups. Terracotta kulhars are both eco-friendly and easy to hold. Even restaurants could serve, water, chai and chaas, by buying them and supporting potters, as they are soon disappearing from our life. Sadly, most homes do not have matkas, as the designs of filtered water systems are not conducive to fill the same water in a matka. The idea of serving chai in kulhars, immediately conjures images of the earth, water and fire, as clay is a symbol of our earth-based,  crafts-based culture. It is also, an inheritance, we received from the Indus Valley Civilization. Kulhars were not heavy, neither big nor small, but have the correct size of a normal teacup and it is a mystery, why we cannot revive the kulhar culture in Gujarat. Of course, some people argue, about the disposal of kulhars, but,  this can be worked out with experts working at design schools. The potter’s art can be revived, as our city still has gaams and puras, which always had a resident potter, working on his wheel, sitting hunched on the floor, under a banyan tree and like a magician creating innumerable pots from just one ball of clay.

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