Kumbhar Wada, Dharavi Mumbai

I have spent the last week with the Galwani Family. They are a 7th generation potting family living in Kumbhar Wada ( potters colony), Dharavi, Mumbai. This colony was established in 1932 with potters from Gujarat escaping drought in their home state.  The 3 sons Abbas, Yusuf and Hanif  of Zakhria are bridging their traditional potters culture with a new era for the potters  in this colony. Using new clays and gas firing they are producing  stoneware pottery as well as low fired wares. 

I was interested to observe the workings of this community as well as persuing my throwing experinces and from their 2nd floor workshop I was able to do this.   From this door way I was able to see aspects of the potter’s working life. It looked onto a small couryard where there was; a  community cotton waste fuel kiln,  clay was prepared, pots and  materials storage, washing dried and, it  was a general walk way. The fish, vegetable, snack food sellers and others passing by.

               Limited space is the overriding visual feature of Kumbhar Wada.  All material carried in and all products carried out by hand/head.

Packing the kiln.

Firing  the kiln ( fibre roof.)


 Packing pots for transporting

One of the numerous thoughts I am left with is how   fortunate Australian potters are. Numerous clay choises in handy sized plastic, reliability of materials, spaces to work,  knowledge of and choise related to heath hazards and a reasonable market for our population.

  Clay making.

 The end of this job for these two men below the Galwani workshop.

As to my own work, working beside Abbas and Yusef was challenging however I put this aside and struggled with Kumbhar Wada style throwing combining Rajasthani and Sandra techniques, and then with some guidance from Hanif arrived at a workable technique.

 I was also taken on a ‘tour’ of the industrial side of Dharavi. I am left with an illusive sense of this place, people going about ‘work to live’  in cramped, and often unsafe places, any descriptions I could make would not do the people justice.