There was a time when thousands of people in the small city of Jewar, Uttar Pradesh, depended on the art of pottery making to make a living. Each generation would pass on the baton to the next one and life was good. Everything has changed now and the age-old craft in this city is in its death throes. Among 150 families, only five remain engaged in their traditional profession. They have no choice but to seek alternative work. Raw materials are expensive and most consumers now prefer durable goods made of steel and aluminum at cheaper rates.
Abdullah, 18, scrapes out clay to shape into pots.
A man painstakingly uses his feet to mould clay.
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Ramji Lal, 62, an expert potter, at work. He comes from a long line of potters in Jewar, once one of the largest potter communities in UP. He is one of a small group of people who cling on to their ancestral trade. He specialises in making earthen drinking vessels and says he must do this work as he has no other skills.
An earthenware vessel takes shape on the potter's wheel.
Ramji Lal sells 100 earthen glasses for Rs 50. Lal says potters now must purchase the clay they once obtained for free.
Samiya, 8, poses in front of earthen pots. She studies in an Urdu madrassah but hopes to become a doctor.
Munna Khan, 60, has been in the pottery industry for past four decades. His family has a total on nine members, including four daughters and three sons. He finds it difficult to subsist on his earnings and is unable to educate his children. He says he would like them to pursue alternate careers. "Even people of my generation are deserting the profession," he says.
Adil is a student in Standard 3, but on Sundays he lends his family a hand in their business. He wants to become an Army officer and believes he can fulfill his dreams, unlike his father.
Pots are readied for firing in a kiln.
A traditional kiln.
Rajwati, 58, wife of Ramji Lal, embellishes the pots with attractive designs.Suggest a correction