Origin of Pottery
Bumthang, it is supposed that pottery was not produced locally, but
rather imported from specialized centers like the one known in Lhuentse
(northeastern Bhutan). While this supposition is regularly made by local
informants, we rather think that such hypothetical far origin is a
construction which is due to the simple fact that pottery making has
apparently disappeared from the Choskhor valley at some time in recent
history, and that this lacking technological knowledge induces new
reasoning about the ware’s origin.
our corpus, we particularly observed that the glittering temper added to
the clay to fabricate the pots is almost identical in content to local
sediments showing very high feldspath content. One such sediment occurs
about 500 meters to the north of Batpalathang, on the track leading to
lacking technological knowledge of pottery making in present days is not
a sufficient reason to induce the absence of local pottery production in
historical times. The relatively poor quality of the ware found in and
around B3, and the fact that its temper material shows such evident
resemblance with easy accessible sediment deposits, argument for a
local, domestic, origin of this production.
illustrate this view, we would like to present observations published in
1996 in the bi-monthly bulletin of the Inter
Regional Volunteer Programme for Artisan Support (IVPAS) by Choeki
Ongmo Dazer, a Bhutanese working for the United
Nations Volunteers (UNV) in Bhutan:
first artisan craft of Bhutan was pottery. The pots were made of red mud
and sold locally. They were used for cooking as well as storing water.
Pottery lost its popularity when aluminium, brass and steel pots came
into the market. Today the art of making pots has lost its charm in
Bhutan. Lhuntshi and Samdrup Jongkhar districts in the East and Thimpu
and Wangdi Phodrang in the West were noted for pottery. The mud of these
regions was suitable for pot making.
technique implemented is fully manual. The decline can be traced to
prevalent social norms. Potters branded as low castes found it difficult
to entice apprentices. This was compounded by the enormous competition
aluminium pots created. The potters had a sudden limit to the scope of
their livelihood” (Dazer
lines indicate the fast replacement of pottery vessels by metal and
alloy recipients, process that must be fairly recent in some areas. It
nevertheless focuses on the ability potters had to produce quality
earthenware that was in use in most households and also traded locally.