In India potters are named as ‘Kumhar’, they create art by throwing a chunk of clay on their revolving potter’s wheel, their artistic fingers shape the simple clay into something which is bliss to the eyes.
Traditionally, being a Kumhar was considered to be the work of an artist who was being transferred to one generation to the other. The next generation interest or talent towards the art is still a question. The kumhars were responsible to make something out of their ‘clay’ for their daily bread and butter. It could be an art, household utensils, decorative items or diya or pots for religious purposes. The best art received publicity as well as precious gifts. Here, the very thin line of creating art or making random objects turns bold, where one is the work of creativity and another is about survival.
‘Kumhar Gram’ or potter’s village of Delhi (Uttam Nagar) is known for showcasing numerous artifacts in the national as well as international shows. Harkishan Prajapati and Giriraj Prasad are considered to be most eminent potters of kumhar gram, receiver of National Award Winners as well receiver of the title of Master Craftsman for their exceptional work in pottery. Harkishan Prajapati is known for his glaze pottery artifacts, is considered to be the sole maker of this craft in whole ‘Kumhar Gram’.
Even if so much talent along with the availability of latest tools exist, this ‘Gram’ or village, is considered to be only surviving eco-system of the art of the Delhi and if not taken care, will be vanished. The potters shifted here from Rajasthan (Western India), to look out for better prospect for their age-old craft. They somehow managed to understand the customer requirements with the help of the middleman or vendors who were responsible to get business. Soon, increased competitions making them turning towards to some other means of earning their livelihood. Not just that, they are no longer forcing their children to be into this profession and encouraging them to look out other ways of earning.
The main reason being these people rely on the vendors for selling their products. The middleman buys at a very lower cost from them and sells in the market at a higher cost. A vendor understands the market well and manipulates the prices of the same product according to an individual customer. Even if the potters know this they can not do anything, else the vendor stops the orders and goes to another potter as there are numerous potters in the village sitting idle.
According to various studies and interviews, it has been understood that the products require differentiation. A major chunk of the potters is making the same old things, like diyas, pots, etc. and nothing creative. A local customer does not find value in these clay products. Even if their biggest festival like Diwali is meaningless without lighting the diya’s they prefer bargaining, saying it is just made of clay. This is not the case with the diya’s packed in colored wraps and sold at a fixed price in some retail or decorated stores.
On the other hand, the tourists (especially international) love to buy from the potter’s and watch them making as well, as they want to take away with them the real essence of India with them. The potters can look out for international as well as national customers by taking advantage of various government schemes developing pottery skills and by learning proper marketing channels, taking proper training and certification to reach out for their ultimate customers in a systematic manner for fruitful results.
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