Koraput (Orissa), Feb.14 : The Orissa government is making an effort to train traditional potters to take to terracotta as a medium. The changeover, it is felt will improve the sales, as also their living condition.
Orissa government has planned to motivate and train these potters for developing skills and showcasing their creativity in terracotta since there is fair demand in cosmopolitan cities for clay novelties.
"Our plan is to convert potters into terracotta artisans because they do not get enough from selling their products. This is happening due to availability of so many substitutes in the market like steel, stainless steel, and aluminum etcetera. We are trying to train them. Some of our trainers are at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad to chalk out an action plan for the potters," said P.K. Tripathy, Director Handicrafts and Cottage Industries.
Terra cotta is a ceramic.It has been used throughout history for sculpture and pottery, as well as bricks and roof shingles
As of now, several potters in Orissa are compelled to lead a struggling life though many upwardly mobile families in cosmopolitan cities wish to collect designer pottery products for their homes.
Far off markets, the transportation cost, non-availability of proper marketing outlets and an overall depleting number of buyers are some of the major problems which have made these traditional potters a highly dejected lot.
A visit to Jhadiguda, an obscure village in Orissa's Koraput District presents a grim picture of potters' plight.
There are about 125 potter families in Jhadiguda Village. They are facing one of the toughest phases of their lives. The numbers of buyers are on wane.
"We have been pursuing this work for last 30 to 40 years. My father taught me how to make pots. Today, the labour and money invested in our profession costs more than the returns. We are compelled to sell our products door-to-door," said, Sripati, one of the potters at Jhadiguda.
Elderly potters today discourage their children and others from taking up pottery for livelihood.
"We face maximum problem while taking the pots to market. These items are not sold out on all days and thus we bring them back to our village. We need a proper stall to sell out our products," said, Harihar, another potter from Jhadiguda.
Potters remember that there was a time when potters' had a big demand for their items. The masses used to cook in earthen utensils and pots. Today, stainless steel and aluminum wares have replaced the clay made utensils.
"We are confronting a major problem here. What is our life? We are not able to provide even education to our children. The Government should provide us with better facilities. We have to buy wood to bake our products and also cook food. One bundle of wood costs rupees 30 to 35 (just over half a dollar). You can imagine our plight. How can we buy wood, when our earning is nominal?" said Rameshwar, a potter.
Usually, these potters take along with them a limited number of their products. But despite selling the products at rupees 150, the margin of profit is mere Rs.50. Many times, when they are not able to sell, the potters find themselves with no option but to resort to distress sale. By Sarada Lahangir