Kumbharwada is Mumbai’s largest colony of potters. It is populated by the Kumbhars (which means Potters), who have lived there since 1932. The Kumbhars formed their own community now famously known as “KUMBHARWADA”. Potters in Kumbharwada migrated from the Saurashtra in South Gujarat. They first settled in south Bombay, but as the city expanded, they were pushed to its outer edges, in other words Dharavi (close to the Eastern Express Highway and Bandra-Kurla Complex). Kumbharwada is one of many unregulated enterprises that have been established in Dharavi over the years (others include leather industries, zari, plastic recycling, etc.). It occupies 22 acres of land that houses around 1400-1500 families, 700 – 800 of whom still practice Kumbharwada pottery today. Kumbharwada pottery ,or KW pottery as we like to call it, is the essence of traditional Indian pottery. It uses indigenous red and grey clay in traditional ‘bhattis” or kilns, using a variety of traditional methods of molding and ornamentation. KW pottery is utilitarian and domestic, simple yet attractive and is available in varied shapes and sizes, evolved to match a specific use. It is unfortunate that inadequate working capital, meagre wages, disappearing markets, technological obsolescence and plastic usage have rendered pottery largely obsolete in today’s world.
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