Saturday, June 20, 2009

Revival of pottery, an ancient art

Dhaka : Since ages Bang-ladeshis have proved themselves adept in producing exquisite pottery products. Pottery in this region can be traced back to around 1500 BC. At least six types of earthenware of high quality have been found in archaeological sites like Maha-sthangarh, Govinda Vita, Vasu Bihara, Wari-Batesh-war, Mainama-ti and Pahar-pur.

There were 'Kumarpara' or 'Palpara' - of potters in al-most all the villages of rural Bangladesh since ancient times. Besides pots and jars for everyday use, ceremonial pots such as Rasherhari, Shakherhari, Dharmaghat, Shitalghat, Nagghat, Manasaghat, Muharramghat, Ghazighat, Mangalghat, Laksmisada bear testimony to the ancient potters' art of Bengal.

An integral parts of Bang-ladesh's culture for hundreds of years, pottery has now become popular interior decoration materials across the country, specially in the cities.

Once used in day-to-day lives of the people of the country for cooking and storing water or religious purposes, pottery items are now used as show pieces and adorn posh homes. Aluminum products had almost driven them out of their business. But present trend of decorating houses with pottery items is helping revival of the art, which was on the verge of extinction.

Though many shops in posh shopping centres of Dhaka sell pottery items, the footpath near the Bangladesh Shishu Academy in the city is the favourite place of those who wish to buy items for decorating their homes. A good number of nursery plant shops alongside help increase the sale of shops of pottery and terracotta showpieces.

Affluent people of the city, university students and tourists mainly visit the shops and buy terracotta items of their choice. "Pottery items and terracotta showpieces are very popular among the city people. Buyers generally opt for this place as this is the biggest market of pottery and terracotta items,' said a shopkeeper.

New terracotta showpieces including wall hanger, sculpture, flower vase and ashtray are also available in different shops.

'Sales depends on weather, political situation and new arrivals of products,' a shopkeeper said. 'Increased sale of nursery plants in the nearby nursery shops give a boost to our business,' another shopkeeper added.

Potters of Comilla, Savar, Barisal, Patua-khali and Bhola supply products to the shops. The clay of these places are said to be best for making pottery products. The shopkeepers often paint them to make the items attractive.

Earthen ornament sets, flo-wer vase, wall hangings, ear-then 'banks' for collecting coi-ns, candle sta-nds, clay mugs and bells, animal figures, replicas of bri-des and gro-oms can be found near the Shishu Acade-my and also in the posh shops. The price of pottery varies according to their design and size. A small item can fetch at least Tk 150 if it is of good quality.

Lately there has been trend of producing replicas of famous paintings of Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin and Patua Qamrul Hasan.

Pottery items are already being exported. It is hoped that if it receives the attention of the government and easy loans from the banks, this ancient craft would become popular household decoration in many parts of the world.

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