Often, with not even an hour's travel, it is possible in Bangladesh to chance upon at least a few families of traditional potters still making the beautiful low temperature unglazed pottery that their forefathers have been making since time immemorial. The profusion of this craft is quite understandable when one considers the easy availability of soft alluvial soil in deltaic Bangladesh and the creativity of its artisans.
The potters of Bangladesh follow traditional methods and have over thousands of years been crafting pottery to meet the domestic, ritual and ceremonial needs of the community around them.
The terracotta temples built during 15th to 17th century show the skill and imagination of the potters at their best. During the 14th and 15th centuries, a number of mosques and mausoleums were built adopting local village architectural form of thatched house and using terracotta to decorate the outer surface.
Clay and terracotta products for domestic pottery and as festival toys and artefacts are available throughout Bangladesh all year round. The figurines, objects and items of play have a long and ancient history emanating from the divinities, votive offerings and ceremonial pottery of thousands of years ago.
The potters in Bangladesh have maintained this clarity of design, by using decoration only in so far as it enhances the natural beauty of form. Using the simple wheel and deft fingers, the potter moulds a profusion of domestic pottery which is remarkably functional. For water storage, the shape is one that keeps the contents cool; for cooking, the form preferred is that which conserves fuel. Larger vessels with elongated shapes or heavy jars with wide rimmed openings are used for storage. There are special pottery containers for different items that are as diverse as they are attractive.
Clay items are made in Bangladesh in two traditional ways: on the wheel, and by the hand. In general all toys, dolls, figures (human and animal) are made by hand modelling or in a mould. Pots and pans, jars, bowls, pitchers and storage vessels etc. are made on the wheel, or by a combination of both techniques. The wheel work is traditionally the occupation of men whereas hand modelling, shaping finishing etc. is done by the women.
Glazing, a relatively new technique has added a new dimension to the ceramic craft of Bangladesh. Glazing, ash trays and other products are crafted from Rayer Bazar clay.
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