The craft of making earthen pots is one of the oldest known crafts. It’s design and efficiency is time-tested. These earthen pots are living testimonies of design which has undergone very less or no rectification. The Gundiyali pottery earthenware is characteristically adorned with patterns using different colors, like white and red, without any paint content.

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Introduction:

Usage:

As water storage containers: Earthenware is a natural refrigerant, the porous nature of the earthen pots makes the accommodated water sift through the pores, it extracts the heat from the contained water and evaporates from the surface; it’s a continuous process which leads to decrease in water temperature inside the pot, the more the ambient heat, the more will be the cooling effect. Hence, earthen pots (Matka) are a vital accessory for kitchens in western India. The pots made at Gundiyali find their applications in storing water.

As kitchen utensils: Utensils such as tumbler, handi, thali, katori, tandoor-pots are several products made in Gundiyali pottery. Food cooked in earthenware saturated with water provides slow evaporation of steam from pores, this result in characteristic flavor and healthy food.

As material storage containers: The absence of polymers and hardships in obtaining metal led to the use of earthenware as the material for storage containers, used for storing household stuff such as grains, utensils, beddings etc. These containers have been used since the Indus Valley Civilization.

As earthen lamps: Diya or Deepak constitutes a significant part of Gundiyali pottery usage, these are in high demand during Diwali and Navratra festivals. Oil is poured into these earthen lamps and a cotton wick is installed which is then burnt for illumination.

As lifestyle accessories: After the arrival of economical polymer products, the usage of pottery has faced a steep decline, this has lead Gundiyali potters to experiment with their products. Potters are now making Chandeliers, toys, wall hanging artworks and showcase them in various art fairs across the subcontinent; as a result, the consumption has penetrated into urban areas too. Earthenware satiates the user by fulfilling the long known wish to connect with crude natural elements and at the same time being aesthetically pleasant.


Significance:

The raw materials for pot making are obtained from a particular region. The mud utilized for the process is brought from a specific 5 acre area; 45 km away from Gundiyali village. The characteristic smooth finish obtained is the result of rigorous process which involves earthenware being polished and cleaned at every stage. The paintings and patterns on the pots not only signify the aesthetic sensibilities of the craftsmen but are also a reflection of their natural surroundings. At Gundiyali, potters are reluctant to experiment or revise the existing forms and designs of their products, pots may change with the significant socio-economic changes. Some traditional vessel designs have changed in accordance with urban kitchens, although employing same decoration patterns. 


Myths & Legends:

According to Hindu mythology, when the gods and demons were churning the ocean for amrita, it was collected in a Kumbh (earthen pot). This is believed to be the first earthen pot ever created by the potters. There is another story associated with the earthen pot; during the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Shiva realized that he forgot to bring an earthen pot, hence he tore away a part of his skin and gave it to a Prajapati (a god of creativity) to form the pot, also Goddess Parvati poured out her blood to decorate the pot. This is how the first Kumbh (earthen pot) was made.


History:

When nomadic lifestyle slowly changed to agricultural, the need for less transient objects came into being. Stationary dwellings and storages became a necessity. The earthen pot was one such object. Earthenware has been excavated from ancient city of Harappa, which existed about 5000 years ago. The Gundiyali pots are seen to have similar patterns drawn on them as seen on the pots from the Harappan excavations. The craftsmen are believed to originally hail from Sindh; their craft travelled with the successors who have settled in different regions of Kutch.


Design:

The style of pottery highly resembles that of the painted grey-ware pottery culture. The form of the vessels is derived from their specific function. Earthen pots (Matka) generally have spherical bases and steep sloped upper halves. This form is derived from the flow of water sifting through the pores, as this water is collected under the earthen pot, any other form might make water drip from every corner of the pot. For a vessel used to store materials such as grains or flour, a wide mouth is made for easy extraction through hands. Vessels utilized for bringing water have narrow mouths to prevent water spilling. Cooking vessels have wide mouths to assist stirring, with thick rims for comfortable handling while they are hot. Vessels used while serving food generally have less depth and flat bases for stability. The forms are also very closely related to the demand of the consumers; the occupation, family, clan identity, culinary habits and rituals are the factors which shape consumers’ needs.

Earthenware is decorated with the patterns which can be found in the aesthetics of pottery in Gangetic plains. The designs are commonly classified under geometric, naturalistic motifs. 

The geometric motifs are comprised of:
Lines:
These form the stripes, loops, lattices, wavy patterns and zigzag patterns.
Triangles: The different types include concentrically placed triangles, hatched and alternatively filled triangles, wavy lines triangles and triangles forming a battle axe pattern.
Squares: Commonly found are the squares filled with cross-hatching and lattice, squares with chequer pattern and the ones with four petal flowers.
Diamond or lozenge pattern: Lines formed out of diamond pattern, diamonds placed within a circle and diamonds with oblique and vertical wavy lines.
The naturalistic motifs consist of various forms of animals, birds, humans, celestial elements and flora.


Challenges:

Gundiyali pottery is a labor intensive process. The cheap colorful polymer alternatives available in markets have created a large decline in the demand of this pottery. The selling price of Pottery pots is not coping up with the inflation in the cost of the products of daily use; this in fact has put the daily livelihood of the craftsmen in question. New generations can’t embrace this craft as primary job because returns are not proportional to the investment of effort.


Introduction Process:

The earthenware takes shape on the potter’s wheel; it is decorated with fine patterns which are unique to this style of pottery. These patterns are made using different kinds of clay, thereby having different colors. The final outcome is intricately designed, smoothly finished earthenware.


Raw Materials:

The raw materials required are different types of clay and material for heat generation in kiln, Gundiyali potters usually use firewood, hay or bio waste of the ruminants for heat generation. Pieces of fired and rejected earthenware are used to seal the kiln. Jute bags are taken into account to cover the kiln while firing the earthenware. Coloring mediums such as Geru, chalk etc are used to put patterns on the shaped earthenware.


Waste:

Gundiyali pottery making process has seen minimal changes since Harrapan era; the traditional practices are still intact. The firewood ash constitutes the main waste material of this process; villagers use this by-product as a substance for hand-wash or cleaning the kitchen utensils.


Tools & Tech:

– Sieve to obtain fine clay.
Potter’s wheel to shape the clay.
Chhadi (wooden stick) to power the potter’s wheel.
Thread to cut the piece sculpted on the wheel.
Finishing tools to finish the sculpted piece.
Kiln to fire the earthenware.

 


Rituals:

Earthen pot is not only a basic amenity in the household, but a ceremony without earthen pots is considered incomplete in Hinduism. The umbilical cord at the time of birth is buried in the land by keeping it in the earthen pots; earthen pots are brought when the idol of god or goddess is installed in the ‘Pandal’ during the ‘Janeu’ ceremony,  also during the marriage earthen pots are put at four corners of the ‘Mandap’. At the time of cremation, an earthen pot is carried by one of the family members of the departed. The earthen pot is involved in all the main ceremonies from birth to death. It is believed that even a human body is formed from sand, an earthen element.


process:

The earthenware takes shape on the potter’s wheel; it is decorated with fine patterns which are unique to this style of pottery. These patterns are made using different kinds of clay, thereby having different colors. The final outcome is intricately designed, smoothly finished earthenware.

Preparing the clay: After mining the mud from preferred area, it is then ground and sieved to get finer particles. This is then put in water for around 2 or 3 days to make it soft and workable.

Making the pots: The soft clay is molded on the potter’s wheel. The potter uses a thread to part the shapes formed on the wheel and places them beside the wheel. The intermediate shapes obtained from the potter’s wheel are then put to dry, after a certain rigidity has been attained by these newly made pots, another potter shapes these pots as per the regional design, he turns the thick walled intermediate shapes to a deep and hollow pots with uniform and thin wall thickness. The shaping process which is done manually is time consuming and involves lot of effort. The potter takes the shaping pad made of cloth in one hand and a wooden beater in another. He then presses the shaping pad on the inside of the pot and beats the pot with wooden beater from the other side. The beating is continued till the pot attains a uniform spherical shape. These finely shaped pots are cleaned and left to dry in the shade. They are then cleaned and put to dry again. After this the pots are decorated with various intricate patterns using clay of different colours namely white, dark brown and red. The red colour of the pots is obtained from a type of soil called Geru. These are the fired in the kiln and left to dry again. The pots are coloured before firing so that the patterns adhere strongly to the surface and the durability is increased.

Firing in the kiln : A temporary kiln is set-up by stacking earthen-pots, heat generation fuels such as firewood, hay and bio waste of ruminants are then scattered on the stack or put inside the pots. The kiln is covered with jute bags and pieces of fired earthenware, which were obtained from rejected pieces. These pieces cover the kiln boundary and prevent the heat from seeping out of the kiln. After the firing is completed, the resulting product is then cleaned and put for sale. The earthenware fired in open kiln on the ground has auburn or brownish red appearance and the pieces fired in underground, closed kiln are black in colour.


Cluster Name: Gundiyali-Mandvi

Introduction:


district Gundiyali-Mandvi
state Gujarat
population
langs Kutchi, Gujarati, Hindi
best-time
stay-at No Hotels, Stay at Bhuj or Mandvi
reach On state highway-46, 7-8 km from Mandvi, travel by local bus or taxi
local It is a small village, everything is at a walkable distance. locally auto is avalable
food Local chai shop

History:

GunDiyali village was established by the artisans who migrated here from Sindh around few years back. The village was the part of Kutch kingdom ruled by Sind tribes of Samma Rajputs, in 1530, Shah Hussain defeated the Samma Rajputs and since then it was ruled by Mughals. During the reign of Emperor Jahangir, Kutch was freed on the request of Raja Bharmal. 

Geography:

Gundiyali (22.84°N 69.42°E )  is a village of Mandvi Taluk in Kutch district of Gujarat. Located at 7km distance from Mandvi; this village is 335 km from State capital Gandhinagar. It is well connected through state highway road network (Sh-46). The nearest railway station is 54 km from Gundiyali and the nearest airport is at Bhuj.

Environment:



Infrastructure:

GunDiyali is a small village; it has a primary school up to secondary level education. There are 126 wells for water out of which only one well contains potable water. The village utilizes a 66 kv power supply. Nearest hospital is at 8km distance, in Mandvi; but village has private medical practitioners and health workers. Other physical infrastructure in GunDiyali includes a small bus stand, post-office and a temple.

Architecture:

GunDiyali has 'Y' shaped branching of streets with diversions at regular intervals. Concrete houses are slowly replacing the traditional huts, majority of houses have courtyards and cattle sheds.

Culture:

Hinduism and Islam are the two main religions in GunDiyali, the village has one temple. Majority of people obtain their livelihood from agriculture and fishing. GunDiyali people mostly converse in Sindhi and Gujarati.

People:

There are 891 households in the village with the population about 5353, with sex ratio of 978 women for every 1000 males. Around 20% families have migrated to metropolitan cities for better livelihood and 5% have relocated to other nearby towns.

Famous For:

GunDiyali village is known for its pottery; being practiced since Harappan era, a little has changed in the traditional process of pottery making. Potters still wok with the wheels and follow the same decorative patterns. If visiting GunDiyali, don't forget to fill your trunk with these congratulatory pieces of earthenware. 

Craftsmen

List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Team Gaatha

Process Reference:

http://books.google.co.in/books?id=GW5Gx0HSXKUC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=gundiyali+pots&source=bl&ots=QfPfEtM-Ha&sig=GpCagGyfi6RIZ3kroaE9wo6SK7Y&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MAEFUaKnA-eO0AX9ogE&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=gundiyali%20pots&f=false

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumhar

http://www.ancient-asia-journal.com/article/view/aa.10206/41

http://www.forumforhinduawakening.org/understanding/glory-of-hindu-dharma/why-is-the-earthen-pot-used-in-all-important-sanskars

Cluster Reference:

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