Clayware – A cottage Industry

One of Sri Lanka’s oldest handicrafts or cottage industries, pottery focuses mostly on the talents and artistic prowess of the craftsmen. Almost all Sri Lankans still use this clayware in a variety of shapes in their daily lives since it has many benefits for them. Since they are a part of nature, they are completely eco–friendly. These are affordable enough for even a common individual to purchase. In addition, the majority of Sri Lankans, particularly those who live in rural regions, think that rice cooked in clay pots and curries prepared in clay pans taste better.

In several villages throughout the Island, potters continue this cottage industry amid several problems. It still takes a long time to create the product since they operate basic machines like the potter’s wheel, which is rotated by hand. Yet, finding a ready market for their produce is difficult these days.

One might find certain exceptional characteristics that set ceramics apart in the market. The utensils should, first and foremost, be appropriate for the task at hand. It should constantly convey the flexibility, sincerity, and perfection of the clay utilized in the formation.

The patterns they utilize on the utensils, on the other hand, should always contrast with the purpose for which they are intended. Even if its outside beauty is significant it is not given top importance. That indicates that the product’s quality is now given top emphasis. The Sri Lankan potter culture still exists despite all of these.

It is a very simple process that the craftsman follows to make out these pots and pans.

  • First, place the ball clay on the pottery wheel.
  • Start spinning the wheel with the foot.
  • In the meanwhile, weave the hands around the supple clay.
  • Fashion it into a curved pot.
  • Once the pot takes its desired shape, use a piece of twine to sever the pot away from the spinning wheel.
  • After a few hours, place the pot upside down on the wheel to acquire the final shape.
  • Peel away the excess clay from the bottom to prevent cracks from appearing.
  • Hammer and carve the pot into its smooth roundedness.
  • After a few hours, place the pot in the scorching brick oven and later in the sun.

This process must be carried out painstakingly but quickly and precisely by both men and women who have years of experience and are experts in their lifestyles. They mold the clay into a variety of pots and pans. Locally, these various pots are called “Kalaya”, “Nambiliya”, “Muttiya”, “Hattiya”, “Guruleththuwa” “Kothalaya” etc. Each of these pieces of pottery is intended for specific use in the daily lives of Sri Lanka’s common people.

Kalaya: This substantial container was created primarily for the strength of water in the kitchen. The fluid curves and shape of this object echo the symbolism typically connected with the villages’ women, who typically carry it to the well. Even still, in Sri Lanka’s rural districts, one can see women carrying water-filled “Kalayas” on their backs with a guardian arm wrapped around them as they return home. This commonplace vessel has

 no designs, while being exquisitely bent and carved.

Nonetheless, the lovely teen ladies who perform the renowned local dance ‘The Kalagedi Natuma’ (The dance of pots) uses little portable pots with charming patterns that are frequently in dazzling hues. They imitate the beautiful movements of women carrying “a kalaya” in this dance, swaying their hips to balance the added weight.

Guruleththuwa / Kothalaya: These tools were created to hold water. Because it is made of earthenware, the water inside is often chilly and emits a peculiar aroma. It has a wide, rounder bottom and a long, graceful neck that finishes in a mouth with a smooth cut, giving it an attractive appearance. They have dancers, flowers, and vines carved into them as decorations. The “Kothalaya” resembles a teapot with a spout in several ways.       

Muttiya: This item, which comes in several sizes, resembles a pot almost exactly, but its broader mouth sets it apart. It is versatile in the matter of the usual chores of a traditional kitchen in rural society. Bigger ones are used to make a herbal mixture that is utilized at the auspicious anointing oil ceremonial of the traditional new year festival or to collect the juice of coconut and kitul flowers.

The fact that milk is always boiled on ceremonial occasions as a sign of prosperity using a muttiya is highly significant.

On the other hand, in a traditional kitchen in a rural community, “muttiya” is specifically used to store and preserve different food products, and they are placed on the “Dum massa,” a wooden structure with layers erected just over the fireplace. These containers were used to store rice and rice flour, Kurakkan floor, dried jak or “atu kos”, dried breadfruit or “atu del”, dried fish, dried mangoes, etc. for preservation and conservation.

Above all, “mutiya” is still the only object used to boil rice, Sri Lankans’ mainstay diet.

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