Country: Nepal
Photo Dipesh Shrestha

Commercial production of stoneware and earthenware ceramics began in 1984, in Bhaktapur, a city known for clay products.  This was after German INGO GTZ,  now renamed as GIZ, provided training to local potters, although had have been making clay products for many years. The Prajapati caste of Newar community has been making clay since centuries. At present, six companies in Thimi, Bhaktapur, are involved in commercial manufacturing of stoneware and earthenware ceramics. Those making earthen clay products are locally known as kumale.

Photo Dipesh Shrestha

Local potters source clay from Deukhuri Valley of Dang, which lies in inner Tarai of mid-western region. To make stoneware ceramic, the stoneware clay or non-refractory clay is mixed with talcum powder, softened and smoothed to make dough. It is then wedged to remove air pockets and kept in pottery wheel where it is molded into the required form. The product is then trimmed and cleaned to give a smooth shape. The  ceramics thus made is  kept above Plaster of Paris to drain water. It is dried and then baked at 1100 to 1300 degree centigrade. It is then glazed and baked again to give better finishing.

Stoneware ceramics are mostly used for household purposes as well as for decorative purpose in hotels and restaurants. However, clay products are use in various ceremonies like birth and death rituals. Stoneware ceramics are made as per the designs forwarded by buyers in countries like the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and other European countries. Different handicraft showrooms in Kupondol as well as in star hotels showcase and sell these products.

The demand for stoneware ceramics is growing by 10 to 15 percent annually both in the domestic and the international market. Local potters, however, have not been able to ramp up productions due to factors like load-shedding and unavailability of different glazing chemicals, among others.