Monday, June 17, 2024

Pottery Village: Molding Clay “Blessed Craft of the Ancestors”


Nur Agha Fakhri fires up her kiln and prepares pottery in her small workshop 50 kilometers northwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The Kulalan (Potters’ Village) village in the Astilaf region has dozens of pottery makers, but many of them have had to stop pottery production due to reduced sales due to the economic crisis.

Nevertheless, Fakhiri insists on continuing to practice this craft. “You shouldn’t abandon a profession that your parents and grandparents did because it was blessed,” he says.

The 53-year-old says, “My children are also protecting the family business, and they want to save it any way they can.”

Pottery making is an ancient tradition throughout Afghanistan, but Estalaf is famous for the expertise of its potters and the quality of their products.

There are pottery shops on both sides of the main street in Kuala Lumpur, but half of them have closed due to lack of customers.

Open stalls offer bowls, pots and jugs in turquoise, aquamarine and earthy browns.

Most customers visit Kabul for the day, drive an hour and a half to the mountains surrounding the capital, and visit the riverbanks for a picnic.

Sometimes, wholesalers take large orders of ceramics from hotels in Afghanistan or abroad.

Pottery maker Abdul Hameed Mahran (32 years old) noted, “Foreigners and Afghans from other provinces visit Estef because it is an old tourist destination characterized by green spaces.”

Pottery continues to be made using the same techniques used by the ancients. Clay from the surrounding mountains is placed on lathes powered by the potter’s feet while his hands simultaneously shape the vessel.

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“My work makes me proud,” says Mahran, “and it’s a matter of pride that we’re making similar products in Afghanistan.”

Mahran produces 70 to 100 pottery a day in his workshop, and the quantity varies according to demand. After forming, the products are dried under the sun, before entering the kiln stage, which takes place twice a month.

Shah Agha Azimi, a 25-year-old customer from Kabul, says, “I keep coming back here because they always make new products and good quality.”

“They excel at their jobs,” he added. Due to economic problems, only 30 to 80 families are still engaged in the pottery industry, the local people said.

Fakhiri is not opposed to the idea of ​​increasing competition in the sector.

“It makes me sad when I see closed stores,” he says.

He continues, “We are happy to see successful trading in the markets. It reassures us as we do our work.

• Only about 80 families continue to practice pottery due to economic difficulties.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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