The Potters of Ezhumangad

Sep 01, 2015
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Surviving Traditions of River Nila- 6

There are many folk communities, traditional artists and artisans who have been living on the shores on River Nila (Bharathapuzha) since centuries. Ezhumangad is one of the popular potters' villages in Kerala, situated on the banks of River Nila. Some of them are still continuing their tradition.

Rivers and wetland areas are always been a chosen demographic settlement area for potters, as it provides the essential raw materials required for this activity - mud and clay. Ezhumangad in Palakad district, a border area to Thrissur district is one such locale and is close to the River Nila. At present the number of people involved in this profession of pottery has diminished, but doing well and following a better life style.

The community of potters traces their origin to Andhra Pradesh, who at one period had settled in Madurai in Tamil Nadu and from Madurai they had moved to Kerala, many centuries before. They are called 'Kumbharan' or 'Kulalan'.  Through passage of time they became fluent in Malayalam the local language of Kerala. Even now among themselves they speak a dialect which is a combination of Telugu and Tamil. The other settlement areas of potters, near the bank of River Nila are at Varavattoor, Cheruthuruthy (both in Thrissur Dt),  Chuduvalathur, Thruthala,  Ottappalam, Kanniaburam (all in Palakkad Dt) and Tirunnavaya and Ponnani (in  Malappuram dt).

Gopalan, Kuttan, Rajappan, Ponnu, Thankuttan, Rajamani, Sunil and a few others in this community, follow the traditional profession of pottery and almost all are in their 50s and 60s.

Sixty-three-year-old Pannikottil Gopalan had inherited the profession from his father at the age of 12 and is one of the finest potters of the village, and he wants to continue with this art till his last breath. He creates different types of Kitchenware to suit the modern life style requirements of the society, like bowls, cups, jars etc. According to Gopalan he is getting benefit due to the emerging tourism industry as many resorts and Ayurveda centers are approaching him for variety products. “But my sons are not interested in this profession” he added.

But in some families youngsters continue to apply pottery as a means of livelihood. Prasad and Pradeep work with their father Veerappan and they produce all types of Kitchenware, pots etc. According to Veerappan, many of the potters left the tradition and settled in Wayanad during 1970s, when Aluminium and stainless steel products started flooding the local markets. But according to him, for the last ten years, they are getting good income from pottery. They also make clay rings (5ft/6ft diameter and 1.5ft height) for construction of wells.

Kuttan aged sixty two and his son, are still continuing the tradition and specializes on making cooking stove and other Kitchenware. He said “Traders and resellers come and purchase from here and so we need not go to the market to sell the products”.

The products in demand in pottery are Cooking vessels, Water pots, Planting Pots, Kitchen Hearth/stove etc. Most of the potters are now using electrical potter's wheel.  But the kilns they use are still traditional ones with a closed furnace. Their wives help them in polishing and also door to door sales. Restrictions on clay mining have also come as a blow to the industry.

Thirty three year old Sunil represents the younger generation and he got involved in pottery since his father's death, fifteen years back to take care of his mother. Apart from traditional pottery he also makes kitchenware which he said “At present more and more people have started using pottery wares, as the concept of cooking in pots is gaining popularity.”

Goddess Mariyamman is the deity of Kumbharan community and a shrine is there in the colony dedicated to the deity. During the annual festival held in their shrine, all their relatives from other settlements usually participate in the celebrations.

The non availability of good soil and clay is the major threat faced by the pottery Industry. The Legal issues in mining are another blow to their Kula Thozhil, the hereditary profession. Now the Government has to take appropriate steps to prevent this craft from being extinct.

Location/access: Ezhumangad is 10km from Pattambi (via Koottupatha) in Palakkad Dy, Kerala;  Cheruthuruthy is also 10 km; Bharathapuzha (River Nila)  is 5km away.

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Comments

i need some pots please help me how to get it.

For details mail to welcomekeralamagazine@gmail.com

Sir Pls sent price list of clay well rings nd ur contact number also

Mail to welcomekeralamagazine@gmail.com / +91 9388131777

Can I get details of clay well rings

Mail to welcomekeralamagazine@gmail.com / +91 9388131777

Size of well rings diameter & hieght price of each unit .purchasing sits

Dear sir Could you send price list for per/ring as per height and width.

I would like to get the contact details of clay well rings manufacturers near Thrissur, as i would like to install the same at my place.

i want know about clay ring and fix it

compare to concrete rings I understand clay rings are safe

Pls send price list and least Qty to be order

We will send the details with photographs soon.

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