After a long gap, the potter’s wheels have begun to churn along the lanes of Thottakam in Thalayazham panchayat, near Vaikom.
The village, which is home to a community of potters, currently has about 20 families practising the tradition as their primary occupation. The timeless hand craftsmanship, which was slowly disappearing from the village here, has made a comeback through a programme implemented by the Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission Kerala.
The project, titled PEPPER (People’s Participation for Planning and Empowerment through Responsible Tourism), has helped the village and its pottery tradition to find a place in the official tourism map of the State government. The products being churned out by these families are now of great demand among the tourists visiting the backwater destinations nearby.
Launched on November 3, 2017, the project encompassed identification of the region’s tourism potential through special tourism gramasabhas, besides imparting training to the traditional craftsmen in making value-added products. Realising the huge potential of the craftsmanship, which are typically organic with no mechanical excesses, a network involving the resorts and other agencies too has been put in place for marketing these earthenware.
“Lack of business over the years prompted the young generation of the families here to leave the profession and take up other menial jobs for a living. The new programme, however, has brought many of us back into the occupation as our products have started to receive a better price and there is a marked increase in the overall volume of production,” said Rajesh Indamthuruthy, a potter.
Among the products that are now being made here include flower pots, vessels, tumblers and plates in different shapes and sizes.
Commenting on the project, K. Rupesh Kumar, coordinator of RT Mission Kerala, said plans were afoot to expand the existing network for the sale of these products to a chain of resorts in and around Kumarakom, a global destination. “The products will be also up for sale through the online platform called Kerala Responsible Tourism Network,” he said.