Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clay’s fate: Rupture or Rapture

‘Kumbhar vaado’- is a pottery which the photographer in me was longing to visit. But ever since I have got back from there, the photos are the last thing on my mind! The photo shoot has turned out to be an excursion of the life time!

The place, seemed like any other road side, inconspicuous slum in the mega city, encircled by malls and high rise offices under construction. It is actually a colony of few make-shift huts made of plastics, clothes and what not, supported by a few bamboo poles, sheltering 5+ people and lots of pots and clay. With bare minimum facilities and evident adversities, they still manage a lot of warmth and place for goats in the family! The technology penetration is equally evident, as some of these huts flag their DTH connections!

When we reached at 6.00 am, the potters were about to welcome the Sunday, but it was no different from the weekdays! Men  and women busy with their mundane activities and kids, shaping their own dreams! The potter wheels were resting like the static wheel of fortune of these people! Clay lumps waiting for their potter to handle them, shape them, beat them, heat them and strengthen them- an exact metaphor to human in God’s hand!

On interacting further with potters, I learnt that they hailed from various regions of North Gujarat. Every year, they stay at this pottery for 6-8 months, work and get back to their natives during monsoon, looking for an alternative livelihood! In the whole process that I witnessed, I cannot once write that they actually EARN! Not to forget that they pay around Rs. 1500.00 for these huts per month against which each pot, mind you, getting them 20 meager rupees!

The pot making process is a long and tedious one. The procured clay is first conditioned and then made into equisized lumps. They then get onto the potter’s wheel, where two arduous, gentle, concerned hands shape it in various different ways. He often discards a chunk while it is on the wheel, because he knows the fate and the capacity of the same! After various gentle taps followed by cutting it off the wheel in a jiffy, the pots, are put for drying in the sunlight! Losing water is the beginning of its journey! The clay now has a destiny! All the marks on its surface are like its fate lines! Stronger and deeper they are, better the chances of survival!

The process doesn’t end there. The semi dried pots are then taken through a severe beating, manually, by these potters, ensuring least possibility of AIR caused porosity! Higher porosity causes loss of capacity to contain!

A primitive three walled structure called furnace is then filled with the pots to be baked, supported by bricks of previous breakage and lot of hay sticks which burn for around three days to reach and maintain the desired temperature. It can accommodate around 1500 pots in a go, out of which 150- 200 pots surely succumb to pressures and temperatures! When I compare them to humans, the number seems miniscule! We move, rock, shatter in those few moments of undesired pressures, only to know later, if we survive the tough times, that it was mandatory for our soil to get stronger, to help us contain more, leak out less and satiate the ones in contact, irrespective of their states of minds!

Various thoughts stormed my mind in those few minutes that I stood amidst the aspiring clay chunks, that were to climb up the wheel, get shaped, then dried, then be beaten, then baked in a furnace, some of them, to break in the process succumbing to rupture! The thoughts ranged from most mundane like that of a vehement communist, to that of a humanitarian bothered about the dignity of life to some thing as philosophical and abstract as visualizing a potter as the God and pots, as us ;)

I dare to compare here. The lump that we were during the gestation, on birth, become more like freshly shaped pots:) He suddenly cuts us off from his wheel to let us develop an ‘identity’ of our own, which often grows into a giant ego with a lot of AIR. Then, the potter called God, through a severe beating ensures complete escape of air.  For further acclimatization and metamorphosis the furnace called brain works on us! We worry unnecessarily, plan rigorously, save stringently, spend carefully, speak guardedly, and in all that, suffocate our own true selves! At one stage, either we succumb to the suffocation and burst with a crack, making our own existence limited to the pieces that can’t hold and contain the elixir called life, or, we survive, the heat, the pressure, the storms and tsunamis put forth by mind and circumstances. Finally, the potter pulls us out and knocks on our heads to verify that sound of strength- the sound of MATURITY! If we survive amongst the broken pieces, we evolve to become a human being:) The potter, the God then leaves us to grow the way we want to, because then he knows that we can contain LIFE and satiate souls by all that we have imbibed while losing the AIR and VAPOUR- the state of Rapture!


  1. Wow... what a lovely and deep meaning from the lives of potters. i really liked the imagination and comparison between potter and God...!!!

    very well said, if we survive from the hard times and struggle, we then be called Mature Human Beings, not otherwise...!!!

    I loved all the pics too... :)
    thank u so much... :)

  2. amazing, what a great read ma'm, have been to this place some 3 years back but you got me thinking on completely different notes...
    My fav- "the marks on its surface are like its fate lines! Stronger and deeper they are, better the chances of survival!"
    without a doubt the photos totally justify the write up :)

  3. I really liked your blog and similarity of GOD and US and potter and pot. :)

    By the way where is this kumbhar vado? As I dont know why but I always wanted to learn pottery and would still like to if someone is willing to teach me. :)

  4. yet another wonderful piece of writing along with the pics... liked every line... :)

  5. Really i liked your wonderfull thoughts and imagination power .U have given amazing title...:)