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Kashmiri potters switching to other professions in wake of dwindling market

Budgam, May 9: Kashmiri potters are now contemplating giving up their generation’s old profession in wake of the dwindling market for their products.
The potter who used to make terracotta held an important position in the society. Almost in every locality there was a terracotta center. In olden days the potter served some particular households only and he used to make water pots, milk pots and vessels, but now this old tradition of making pottery is carving for attention and has started gradually disappearing with the passage of time.
“Some of the pots were considered indispensable for certain ceremonies. Like ‘hena’ pots , earthen lamps, ‘tumbaknaries, milk pots etc.
“Many generations of my family have been in the pottery business, but as the demand for the mud pots have declined, we have started switching to other jobs,” said a potter Abdul Satar from Beerwa area of Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Recalling the times when this art was considered as a valid profession, Rafiq Ahmed Kumar said that earlier there was barter system. “We used to supply pots to different households and in return they provided us grains. The introduction of modern type of utensils has completely overshadowed this profession.”
In Kashmir some 70 years back in village marriages food was served in mud pots as these are still consideredis clean and harmless and ‘matka’ worked like modern day refrigerator which keeps the water cool. Unfortunately for us these are not used anymore,” Satar added. Another potter, Ghulam Nabi Kumhar believes that traditional use of terracotta plates have not died , “these are still used in marriage ceremonies for serving food in some rural areas of Kashmir but this is not the case in urban areas.
These potters have now been switching to other jobs to make a living. “My son has set up a provisional store as he doesn’t like this profession,” said Abdul Gaffar.