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Bates College

Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2014

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples

Abstract

The Newari sur-name Prajapati has been associated with those who are of the potter caste in the Kathmandu valley. In the past 30 years ceramics in the historic pottery town of Thimi has changed drastically from being an essential and necessary craft and the only occupation for Prajapatis, to a struggling population of visually aging potters. This paper examines the workshop Everest Pottery in Thimi nepal as a case study for the state of ceramics in Thimi today. The author traces the origins of the workshop's founder Shiva Prajapati and examines the shift that Shiva made from traditional Newari pottery practices to modern techniques. The author discusses the success of Everest Pottery and the shift of their market from local to global. The author concludes that with the rise of aluminum, plastic and the fact that Nepali's are no longer looking to buy terracotta pots, the traditional forms that have inhabited the houses of the Kathmandu Valley for generations may be all but gone in the next few years. As a secondary focus the author discovered that while Everest Pottery has left behind most traditional Newari pottery practices, Newari traditional values and customs remain present in the workplace and can be witnessed through the stark division of labor by gender. The women of Everest Pottery all have different stories of how they came to work in ceramics. The author discusses the stories of the women of Everest Pottery, their perceptions of their own roles in ceramics and the perceptions of the female role from the point of view of the men of Everest Pottery. The author found that while there is no spoken rule against women throwing on the wheel, even in a modern ceramic workshop, this tradition remains. Most women who learned to throw in their youth stop throwing when they get married, and additionally do not want to try again for fear that it is too difficult. Similarly, the men of Everest Pottery express doubts about women's ability to throw due to their lack of strength. While the women of Everest Pottery seem to be happy with the status quo, the author offers a counter observation that while some women aren't interested in the wheel, the ones that are given no space to learn. Additionally the author offers potential futures for ceramics if women are eventually included in this integral part of the process.

Disciplines

Art and Design | Art Practice | Asian Studies | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | International Business | Marketing | Sales and Merchandising | Women's Studies

 

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