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COVER STORY

tempered CLAY

Moulede to perfection and tossed into a clay oven; terracotta takes its form. For eons, from exquisite art in lavish temples to earthen utensils used in daily lives, terracotta products have played an important role in our lives. Pals have nurtured this art since time immemorial but times are tough. Recent times have witnessed a revival and with all certainty, “burnt clay” is here to stay.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Chaitee
Wardrobe and Jewellery: Aarong
Makeup: Farzana Shakil

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tempered CLAY

I fell in love with him the instant I saw him winking at me from the vendor's stall in Gulshan Avenue. Obviously he came with an exorbitant price tag yet we were meant to be, me and my terracotta frog prince.

One stormy baishakh evening, the inevitable happened; he lay on the ground shattered in a thousand pieces. I have been searching for him desperately ever since, my terracotta frog prince with a bulging tummy and a wide open smile.

He took me from the sidewalks of Gulshan Avenue through Dhanmondi, Mirpur Road to Doyel Chattar and finally to a potter's village in Kakran in Savar. However he still remains elusive and pricy, and my search for my frog prince continues.

But while searching for him I discovered that the terracotta business has evolved from just being confined to the flower pots trade.

For the past few years, terracotta dining wares, artefacts for decorating purposes and gardening accessories have taken the market full on. City dwellers' demand for these burnt clay embellishments for decorating purposes has grown at a brisk rate.

 

These striking, glazed red items have become a lifestyle trend. Serving a chilled glass of salted lassi on a hot Baishakhi afternoon in a cool terracotta glass has now become the style barometer that says how savvy you are with regards to your living standard.

Serving up a Baishakhi lunch for friends in terracotta dining ware is the norm now. Decorative flower pots, prodip stands, terracotta motkas, shorai or dolls and elephants, horses and swans are all very sought-after home and garden decor accessories.

“Kalachad Pal from Bauphal in Barisal has a booming business; the clay in that area has qualities that are different from other areas and his technique of using the dice-making method multiplies his production,” says Fatema Akther, Designer of the design section of Aarong, one of Bangladesh's leading lifestyle brands.

“Ever since Aarong launched its terracotta dining ware sets, it swept the market and now the terracotta business is enjoying a boom,” she adds.

Nitai Pal, a traditional potter in Kakran feels that his part of the pottery village is going through a dry patch simply because the clay in Shoriatpur or Bauphal in Barisal is of superior quality than that of Savar or Dhamrai. On top of that, potters in Kakran use the kick-wheel technique which is accurate but a more time-consuming procedure than the dice technique.

“Our children don't feel attracted to this age-old trade of Pals, they want to venture out to new horizons. However, many of our next generation is opting for degrees from the Fine Arts Institute and looking at the profession with a more advanced, modern approach,” Nitai Pal explains adding further that with time traditions should change and new additions should be make.

An artistically inclined potter with a university degree can take the trade of clay tempering to new heights. It is important that this tradition continues to evolve, because it is one of the more unique signifiers of our culture. With the recent boom in its popularity, we should be happy and secure in the knowledge that earthen tones of red will grace our homes for a while to come.

By Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Model: Chaitee
Wardrobe and Jewellery: Aarong
Makeup: Farzana Shakil
Special thanks to Fatema Akhter, designer Aarong

 
 
 

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