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The ceramic city of Khurja

| Updated on August 30, 2019 Published on August 30, 2019

Potters of Khurja in Uttar Pradesh look for ways to meet the rise in demand for traditional works

Ever eyed the blue ceramic crockery you were served dinner in at a chic eatery? The pot-roast glistened all the more in the trendy serveware.

Ceramics is one of the oldest materials used by various civilisations to make crockery and decorative items. The process of making it is complex — it involves churning specially prepared clay on a potter’s wheel, followed by moulding and firing. Chemical pigments are added to enhance colour, after which the wares are glazed. Pottery demands the expert use of hands to be able to craft pots to the desired shapes.

Fuelled by growing demand, the Indian ceramic industry is looking to double its turnover by 2021, according to news reports. Frenzied activity to meet the rising demand is visible on the ground as well.

The dust-laden highway from Delhi to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh passes through pockets of lush-green fields and the occasional small town. One of these towns is Khurja, located about 200 km from the Capital. This is a potters’ town, which has thrived for over 500 years. One can find a workshop or a factory with an attached shop in almost every nook and corner of this town. Each workshop produces a wide range of ceramic products, which are popular buys among the tourists and businessmen visiting here.

The products range from everyday items such as crockery and planter pots to decorative miniatures and wind chimes. There is sufficient domestic demand too, but the industry continues to be largely driven by exports.

Every artisan has his/her area of expertise when it comes to pottery, and they stick to it. Speed is a crucial factor in the industry, which depends heavily on the dexterity of the hands.

The renewed interest in this timeless art has put pressure on the artisans to scale up production. Designs are often repeated in order to produce more items in the shortest time, and artisans, more often than not, bank on older, traditional designs.

Text by Shatavisha Mustafi; Images by Sreedeep

Published on August 30, 2019