Ceramics are the oldest form of pottery used throughout history. There are many types of ceramics that have been created across the world. Similarly, Nepalese artisans have been creating beautiful handicrafts using local clay for thousands of years. Today, they are still producing fine works of art using traditional techniques and materials.
Nepal’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for tourists who want to learn about this unique craftsmanship. Ceramic crafting was traditionally passed down through generations as a family trade. Today, this art form is still practiced in rural areas of Nepal, but its production is not only limited to these regions. There are many factories that produce this ceramic product using modern techniques, though the hand-built artisanal method is still preferred by some artists.
In the past, the clay from which the pots were made was dug out of the ground using simple tools like shovels, hoes, picks, and baskets. Though today’s potters use wheel-thrown molds instead of digging their own clay, they continue to use traditional methods of firing the pieces. Some potters may add glazes to their creations, while others prefer to leave them unglazed.
Traditional Ceramic Crafts in Nepal
Traditional ceramic crafts are an ancient art form that has been practiced since the times of the early civilizations. They are still practiced today in many rural areas across Nepal. These traditional crafts have been passed down from generation to generation, and they are usually done using natural materials like mud, wood ash, and cow dung.
In the country, these crafts are mainly produced in rural villages located in the mid-western region of the country however, the cities in the heart of the Kathmandu valley are also famous for their ceramic crafts. Some of these crafts are exported to local markets throughout Asia and western regions.
Most of these Nepalese ceramic crafts are designed as functional household items like cooking pots, water jugs, and flower vases. However, some other items such as toys, figurines, lamps, boxes, and trinkets, are also manufactured locally and are famous souvenirs among the tourists of the country.
Many of these crafts are handcrafted using simple tools like bamboo sticks, stone axes, clay, and pottery wheels. However, the techniques used in making these crafts may vary depending on the region. Also, each craftsperson uses his/her own unique skills and techniques to create their works of art to give them their own signature and authenticity, the designs and patterns of these crafts range from geometric shapes, animal figures, human figures, and floral motifs. That is why Nepali ceramic products are in high demand across the world.
Different Ceramic Crafts Found In Nepal
- Clay Pot Banks
Clay pot banks are used in Nepal to store money also known as “Khutruke”. They are usually made from clay and have a hole at the top where the money goes through. This method of storing money has been around since ancient times in Nepal, in fact, most of the Nepalese children learn to save money with the help of clay banks.
The traditional design of the clay pot banks are, they are round-shaped and have a hole cut on the top part of the pot. Money is pushed inside through that fine-cut line, although coins are easy to push in, you will have to fold the paper notes to slide them in.
The clay pots banks come in various sizes, their capacity to hold the saved amount depends on the size of the pot, although generally, they are available in three sizes, small, medium, and large. Also, depending upon the artists, the clay pot banks come in several designs, some may come in plain brick color, while other pots may contain various designs and color options. The colored and custom-designed clay pot banks cost slightly higher than the normal pot banks available in the local market.
In the modern world, the traditional clay pot banks have been replaced by plastic or metal and other portable banks with high-tech features. However, the clay pot banks still have a high significance and traditional value in the Nepali community. The first saving and the notion of satisfaction after reaching a summit, cannot be replaced by a robotic tin.
- Vases & Jars
Clay pots are used in many countries around the world including Nepal. They have been used for centuries in different cultures worldwide. In Nepal, clay pots are widely used for home gardening and agriculture. These pots are mainly used to grow vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, chilies, eggplants, and smaller fruits in the modern world. However, in the past, they used to be a major source for storing water and other significant household supplements.
The Nepalese people used to store water in the smaller ports and jars whereas storing rice, wheat, mazes, different herbs, and other ingredients. Although the modern era introduced brass and copper pots & jars, the clay-made accessories had high regard in the community. Especially because the clay-made jars and pots didn’t rust on top of that, they were the best materials close to nature in order to store grains and herbs as well as store water that remained cool even on hot summer days.
The ceramics pots and jar crafts you find in Nepal nowadays can be used for the same traditional purpose. Besides storing purposes the clay mad pots and jars can be used to preserve different sauces, jams, growing flowers or vegetables indoors, and even for decorative purposes.
Similar to the clay pots banks, these beautiful crafts come in different sizes and designs, the well-designed and colored jars and pots may cost slightly higher whereas the simple crafts are cost relatively low.
- Ceramic Baskets
The Nepalese clay baskets are handmade from natural clay materials that have been fired at high temperatures. They can be used as planters, flower pots, garden containers, and even as decorative pieces. Clay baskets crafts one of the easy-to-make crafts, that require little maintenance and are long-lasting.
In the context of the country, the clay baskets have been traditionally used for storing grains, vegetables, fruits, and even for decorative purposes. Due to their durability and sturdiness, the clay baskets had been a popular choice in the past, however, in recent years, they have gained popularity among urban consumers and tourists who appreciate their unique style
Clay baskets can be found in many different shapes including round, square, and octagonal. They come in various sizes from large enough to hold 1 gallon of water down to small enough to fit inside a pocket depending upon the purpose it is set to serve. There are generally two common types of clay used for making clay baskets: natural and man-made. Natural clays contain minerals that give them their distinctive color and texture. Man-made clays are manufactured and sold for commercial purposes.
The man-made clays produced for commercial use have greater finesse and finer arts compared to the baskets made using traditional methods, however, the traditional method’s durability cannot be easily outmaneuvered. You will easily find the traditional clay baskets in the local areas but might have to look around for finer finished crafts or buy them online.
- Clay Figurines
A unique form of clay art from Nepal, this figurine has been passed down through generations and can generally be found in homes and temples. They are usually made using the natural properties of the earth and have no added dyes or paints. These clay figures can also be found being kept in temples and are thought to bring good fortune to the owners.
Generally, the clay figurine in the Nepali market represents different kinds of deities based on the diverse religions practiced in the country. However, it doesn’t mean that all the figurines are crafted for their religious significance, the artisans also craft many clay figurines for just fun purposes. You will mostly find different kinds of animal figurines, toys, and other kinds of decorative crafts in the local market or online. Some common types of Nepalese clay figurines include elephants, horses, deities, animals, birds, fish, insects, people, humans, flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc. Most are hand-painted using various techniques including simple brush strokes, stencils, and other methods.
Nepali clay figurines are small sculptures that are typically made from a mixture of mud, water, and natural dyes. The traditional method doesn’t include the use of any harmful chemicals in them. These clay figurines that represent the deities are often used as offerings in Hindu temples and are believed to bring good fortune to their owners. The clay figurines are considered lucky charms that protect their owners from harm. So, next time you are in the country, get yourself some of these good luck charms, at an economical cost and wishes for good fortune, they are not such a bad deal!!
Who isn’t familiar with one of the most popular and significant ceramic crafts in the country right?? Nepal has been known since ancient times for its pottery industry. This craft is believed to have originated in the Kathmandu Valley and was widely used around every corner of the country to create essential accessories to serve different purposes. The pottery craft in the country generally covers all the basic crafts that were once fundmaentals in the past.
Traditionally, the Nepalese potters made pottery crafts pots from a mixture of mud, straw, water, cow dung, sand, and ash. After several processes, the pots are then dried under the sun for a few ways or weeks before they are sold to customers.
Although the pottery covers all the general ceramic crafts in the country, it is a signature itself in the Nepali culture and tradition. The self-crafting market areas have been quite popular among both local and international tourists as they allow you to craft any unique design with your own hands.
With the opportunity to create your own craft using the pottery tools in different cities of the capital valley, there is no limit on what you want to create, turn your imagination into reality with your own hands.
Ceramic Crafting Process
The ceramic crafting process has been around for thousands of years. Ceramics are usually fired at high temperatures to create a hard surface that can hold its shape. This makes ceramics useful for many things like plates, bowls, and vases. Ceramics have always been used for decoration because they are able to withstand heat well; however, they are not as strong as metals they are quite are also fragile compared to other types of crafts.
In the context of Nepal, ceramics crafts are handmade products that are used to make pots, plates, bowls, vases, figurines, and other household items that are popular among both locals and tourists. They are usually made from clay that has been dug out of the ground. There are many steps involved in making these crafts, including selecting the right type of clay, forming it into the desired shape, decorating it, drying it, and firing it.
The first step in making a clay pot is to select a good quality clay. Some people like to dig the clay with their own hands, while others buy them from the market. Generally, clay can be broken down into two types: natural and artificial. Natural clays are mined from the earth and may contain impurities like sand or silt. Artificial clays are manufactured and have no impurities, which makes it easier for artists to craft their ceramic arts.
The first thing after digging the clay out of the ground comes to the process of cleaning the clay properly. The dirt and sand need to be removed by carefully washing. Then the clay is mixed with water and other additives to create a dough-like consistency. After being kneaded into a smooth mass, the clay is shaped into a ball and then left to dry. Once completely dried, the clay can be painted, carved, or fired.
In another process, the clay is mixed with water and sifted through a wooden frame. The clay mixture is then poured onto a plastic sheet and spread into a thin layer. Water is added to the clay until it reaches the proper consistency. The clay is then brushed into pots and placed on a wood fire. As the pots dry, they are moved to a kiln to be baked.
Firing is the final stage of making a pot. First, the artist places the piece inside a kiln where it is heated until it reaches a temperature of about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (about 650 degrees Celsius). At this point, the clay begins to change color and become porous. When the piece is removed from the fire, it is cooled slowly before being placed in a cool room.
When firing, some clay pieces may be covered with slip, which makes them shiny and protects them from cracking. Finally, the piece can be decorated and finished. The clay slip is usually dried in the sun before being used. After drying, the clay slip becomes hard and brittle. When this happens, it is ready to use.
After that, the final ceramic products can be used for cooking food or storing items, or to serve their specific and decorative purpose!!. A finished piece of pottery can take anywhere from three days to several weeks to reach its final finishing stage, it includes the drying process until the crafts are ready to be used.
Popularity of Nepali Ceramic Crafts
Nepal has been a country that has always been known for its rich culture and heritage. Nepal’s rich cultural heritage can be traced back centuries ago since the time of the great Hindu Empire. Nepal was once a land of Gods and Goddesses where people used to worship them and offer prayers. Today, Nepal is still a place where people from different ethnic groups come together to celebrate their unique cultures. One of the most popular Nepalese crafts is ceramic crafts. There are many types of ceramics crafted in Nepal. Some are painted while some others are not. Most of these ceramics are created using clay from the local region. These ceramics are then fired at high temperatures to make them hard. After this, they are decorated by hand before being sold to the customer.
The popularity of Nepali ceramic crafts has been increasing over the years. This is due to the fact that they are affordable, durable, and easy to maintain. They can be used indoors and outdoors. These ceramics are made from clay, sand, and other natural materials. There are many different types of pottery items including vases, plates, bowls, trays, and pitchers including other crafts. Some of these products are functional while others are decorative only.
Here are some reasons why the Nepali ceramic crafts are adored all around the world:
- Durable & Stylish
Nepalese ceramics are known for their durability and sturdiness. These ceramics crafts can stand the test of time and weather conditions. These pots are ideal for growing cannabis indoors because they are lightweight and easy to carry around. They are also stylish and come in many different shapes and sizes.
- Widely Available
Ceramic pottery is widely available in Nepal. You can find them at local markets, shops, and even some tourist destinations. This means that you can get your hands on ceramic pots relatively easily. Compared to other rare kinds of crafting, you won’t have to wait or pre-book for the souvenirs on your way back home.
The price of ceramic pots in Nepal ranges from $4-$20 USD. This makes the ceramics crafts in the country affordable for anyone who wants to buy them. The price of ceramics is low compared to other materials that we use today, in that perspective, fine crafts like these certainly hold the high ground.
- Artistic expression
The artistry involved in making ceramics is expressed through the use of colors and various shapes. This makes these crafts unique pieces that are highly valued. These are considered collectibles and can fetch high prices if they are authentic.
Ceramic crafts are functional pieces of art. Some of the uses for these products include serving as vases, bowls, plates, platters, mugs, and even wall hangings or other decorative purposes. The beauty of Nepali ceramic pieces is that they are both useful and decorative. They can be also used as gifts for friends, family members, or business associates.