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  • Writer's pictureDilmit Singh

The Potter

I wish I could remember the name of the dirt road that led to the little hamlet on the outskirts of Udaipur where I photographed the Rajasthan potters. A name often lends identity to not just the place but also the craft associated with it. On that particular morning, even though it was still early in the day, the sun spread its warmth with abandon and in abundance. The desert sand responded; it embraced the heat in its shimmering grains and shared it with the scattered earthenware - a resplendent show of red terra cotta, in raw and embellished forms, some awash in their perfection, others waiting to be fired so they too could emerge worthy. The men worked at the wheels and the women gathered the unglazed clay formations on dirt crusted wagons transporting them for bisque firing. Men in their traditional white dhotis, women in their colorful garbs, children half clothed and bare footed and the multitude of wares... a feast for the eyes. It was the pirouetting pottery wheels that held me spellbound. My eyes moved from one swivel to the next mesmerized by the dizzying speed calibrated to construct and create the desired shape. Unique pieces emerged as seasoned hands molded, shaped, designed, and lifted them off the wheel. Hands, movement - so deft; so adept. Apprentices as young as six, watched.


In the pandemic’s mandated confinement, I am reliving the what, who, when and why of pictures and pieces painted decades ago. The Potter was painted when I was in the early years of self-teaching. Capturing the aerial view was a challenge and my appraising eye transformed the muddy brown of the ground into the deep red of the clay. Coordinated brush strokes created the movement of the wheel as the completed pottery pieces cast their ponderous shadows on the ground. The painting is dedicated to the indigenous artisans who, to this day, carry on generational traditions and continually seek recognition of their craft as families work together to save the aesthetic flavor of their unique identities.

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Saman Ali Khan
Saman Ali Khan
Jul 27, 2020

So the Potters/us are shaping our own destiny's .....crumbling, warped, sometimes imperfect.....but finally a piece of art.

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Dilmit Singh
Dilmit Singh
Jul 26, 2020

Thank you, Bani! Your excitement is infectious; I feel transported back to the scene again. I appreciate you forwarding the blog to friends who you think will connect with the content. If you can, do take pictures of the pottery pieces you have made and post. I'd love to see your handiwork!

Being confined in space has allowed me to " let fancy roam" and time transport back to distant lands, especially India. The diversity of the country is my muse and never fails to fascinate. Come visit soon!

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banibora
banibora
Jul 20, 2020

Hi Dilmeet

An absolute mesmerising account. I could feel your every feeling & recapturing of every mood essence colours & memory of that experience.

Your painting of The Potter in his wheel was so lifelike I could almost see the wheel spinning . Just magical & delightful . A real lovely read & visual treat .

Thank you so much.

I am going to forward The Potter & The Fishing Village to a few of my artist friends who will so love it too.

So glad you are enjoying this recapture in lockdown.

I used to do some free style pottery too when my boys were very young & made a few things which I gave away to friends wh…


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Dilmit Singh
Dilmit Singh
Jul 19, 2020

Spoken like a true English teacher, Elisa! Thanks for visiting and angling the "point of view."

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Dilmit Singh
Dilmit Singh
Jul 19, 2020

Kanwal, thank you for taking the time to comment. Describing the initial response to the subject and and why I chose it, is helpful to me both as an artist and the writer. Much appreciated.

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