Pottery is an art form that involves creating objects from clay and hardening them through firing. The term “pottery” comes from the French word “Poeteric” or the Latin word “Potium”, which both mean “drinking vessel”. Pottery has been an integral part of human life since the beginning of human history and has evolved over time. The earliest evidence of pottery dates back to around 10,000 years ago near the Nile River. In Nepal, modern ceramics were introduced in 1980, and today, earthenware, ceramics, and porcelains are used for daily use, scientific experiments, and electrical apparatus. Although the pottery industry in Nepal is not very large scale, it operates efficiently under small-scale cottage industrial groups.
Pottery, glassware, and kitchenware industries are fast developing in Nepal, with major centers in Thimi, Chyamhasingh, Pottery Square Bhaktapur, Khokana, and Bungmati. The skills of Nepali potters have been passed down from generation to generation, and entire families trace their heritage alongside the occupation of pottery. Large ceramic water pots are found in almost every village in Nepal, used for collecting, storing, and transporting water, as well as keeping it cool. Clay goods are also essential to many Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies, where small ceramic cups hold candles and butter lamps.
In Bhaktapur, ceramics are considered superior to those made elsewhere because they mostly use black clay called “Dyo Cha”, which is supple and elastic in nature and found only in one place. Only the Prajapatis of Bhaktapur are allowed to dig for it once a year. Digging for clay is a hard and risky job that sometimes results in cave-ins and loss of life.
Nepali handcraft shops offer a variety of ceramics for sale, including animal or deity figurines, bells, tea sets, mugs, cups, and decorative panels. One personal favorite is the owl candle stand, which is both cute and functional.