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.
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 & Technology
- 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.
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.
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.