Jul 1, 2023
Soil, the Earth's bountiful gift, is often considered one of nature's greatest treasures. Its significance extends beyond its role in supporting plant life; it has been utilized for centuries to create pottery vessels that offer numerous health benefits. In the past, these pots were predominantly employed for cooking, as nothing could rival the exceptional flavors they infused into dishes. Their usage transcended culinary purposes, spanning from joyous occasions like birth celebrations to somber ceremonies marking the end of life. This cultural tradition has been lovingly passed down through generations, exemplified by the skilled craftsmanship of Kitta and Leela, a couple from Varanga near Kadri who have dedicated themselves to pottery for over half a century.
The process of creating these clay pots is meticulous and intricate, demanding a deep understanding of the art form. Kitta and Leela begin by sourcing the clay required for their pottery. They carefully select and grind the clay, ensuring its purity, before meticulously filtering it to remove any impurities. The next step involves tempering the clay with just the right amount of water. The mixture is left to settle for a day, allowing it to reach the desired consistency. Later, the clay is shaped into lumps and undergoes another round of tempering.
With the prepared clay, Kitta and Leela place it on a potter's wheel, expertly spinning it into the desired form. Once the pot takes shape, the couple cuts off the bottom, ensuring a smooth finish. To strengthen the vessel, they diligently tap it with a wooden board, reinforcing its structure. This raw pot, now proficiently crafted, is left to dry under the warm embrace of the sun for three to four days. As the pot solidifies, Kitta and Leela prepare to subject it to intense heat.
A well stoked wood fire serves as the final stage of the process. The couple skillfully arrange the dried pots in the fire, allowing them to endure the intense heat. This firing process fortifies the clay, enhancing its durability and resilience. Once the pots have been subjected to the heat, they emerge stronger and ready to be used for various purposes.
Kitta and Leela's expertise extends beyond creating traditional pots; they also craft drinking jugs, pot filters, kadai (a type of cooking pan), a flat bread making utensil, and jugs among other items. The preparation of each pot entails a meticulous process spanning seven to eight stages, often spanning over ten days. The patience and diligence displayed by this devoted couple are truly remarkable, as they pour their heart and soul into each creation.
Through their passion and craftsmanship, Kitta and Leela keep alive a centuries-old tradition, honoring the heritage passed down to them. Their pottery not only reflects their skill but also showcases the importance of soil as a vital resource. These clay pots, steeped in cultural significance, embody the rich history and deep connection between nature and human creativity. As people savor meals cooked in these pots, they not only indulge in the exquisite flavors but also partake in a tradition that celebrates the profound bond between mankind and the earth.