Any one passing through Dhaka University would be amazed to see the artistic pottery on the pavement near Shishu Academy. Potters in Bangladesh are highly skilled and innovative. They know how to produce a variety of pots, pitchers, toys and other items in the finest inventive styles.
As we buy those for our precious drawing rooms we never think of the economic conditions of the potters community. A newspaper recently reported that the community is facing extinction.
The report said in absence of state patronisation thousands of potters, mostly concentrated in remote areas, began to undergo sufferings in silence with nobody to look after their need. Since the introduction of plastic goods and aluminium products pottery lost its attraction to modern customers in cities and towns. This has extremely limited their source of livelihood forcing many of them to leave their ancestral profession.
Should they disappear? We would say no. It is true that modern people are inclined to use synthetic and aluminium wares. But we have seen that foreigners living here always buy the pottery products. We could seize this opportunity to explore newer markets for our pottery. As a gift or for house or office decoration the potters can be of much attraction to many.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation can play a vital role in this regard. It can organise exhibitions at regular intervals in every town and thana headquarters to familiarise pottery and motivate people to use earthen products instead of plastic ones. Besides, the items can be sent to exhibitions outside the country. Systematic efforts is sure to give dividend. The potters will find a way to stay in their profession with comfort.