Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How many pots could a potter pot if a potter could pot pots?

After visiting the church in Idaikattur, we went to the small town of Manamadurai to see a local pottery operation. The director of the Tamil program Dr. Bharathy knows my interest, and I think that was the main reason for that part of the journey. It was an amazing operation. They were organized as a cooperative, a number of families sharing facilities, and the work involved in firing. They also appeared to be involved in fairly large bulk production operation, and were in the process of loading the pots in to trucks with straw cushioning when we visited. They make a variety of vessels, although the proportions have changed. Ceramic cooking vessels are used in the home here only on special or ritual occasions, and small oil lamps for altars are common. But the largest volume is flower pots, which are all hand made.
I would have loved to have studied pottery there with them, especially because of the family environment, but it's really too far to travel from Madurai on a regular basis. Instead I'll be taking pottery lessons twice a week in the village of Vilaachery about 45 minute bus ride from my neighborhood.
I don't start classes until next week but I'm excited, and I'll post pictures, if I manage to make anything with any success.

A young girl making small oil lamps for use in temples and home altars for worshipping the various Hindu deities.

Large piles of pottery, finished and ready to ship.

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