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Survival and revival: Clay traditions in the Sindh region

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Two distinct clay traditions in Sindh, a province in southern Pakistan, date back to the Indus Valley Civilization and the Muslim period beginning in the eighth century. Field studies undertaken over the last twenty years show continuation of these clay traditions in the province, such that the working methods, materials, decorative designs, tools and equipment have not changed to a great extent. However, a slow decline in the number of practicing artisans from the traditional Kumbhar and Kashigar families and deterioration of the craft was observed. Therefore, it becomes pertinent to understand the impact of recent interventions to revive the craft. This article discusses the survival of the craft of glazed and unglazed terracotta over the centuries. The discussion reveals that kashikari (the craft of glazed decorated terracotta) receives considerable attention of individuals and organizations aiming to work with or aid the artisans whereas the craft of traditional unglazed terracotta remains almost neglected. It was found that some of the interventions initiated by the government that have taken place in the last seven or eight years have not had the desired beneficial effects. The proposition of this article is that serious and informed effort is required to restore craftsmanship and cultivate markets to benefit the artisans.
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Keywords: Indus Valley; Pakistan; Sindh; ceramics; craft intervention; craft tradition; kashikari; pottery

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Pakistan

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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  • The aim of Craft Research is to advocate and promote current and emerging craft research, including research into materials, processes, methods, concepts, aesthetic and style. This may be in any discipline area of the applied arts and crafts, including craft education.

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