Published on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 15:56
Clay and glaze products from Twantay (Photo- Nyeinchan Win/ EMG)
A young lady is gracefully moving her artistic hands and fingers through the clay on the spinning wheel to make a pot.
But such kind of traditional scene could very well disappeared in near future because of the volatile business environment that eats into such traditional arts and crafts. The number of people doing such work is on the decline and may disappeared forever if nothing is done to keep the tradition alive.
The young lady inherits this work from her 50-year old mother since she was in seventh grade.
Her mother, Daw Hnyar, is a small pottery business owners in Twantay Township, one of the famous townships for ceramic pottery in Myanmar, located sixteen miles away from Yangon.
Daw Hnyar has been in this business for her entire life. Her knowledge was handed down from generation to generation through her family line. She spoke passionately about her work and about her desire to expand the family business. But with her production comes the acquisition of a more advance equipments, which could translate into high cost. At this particular moment, while the desire is there, Daw Hnyar is unable to afford it.
She is running with two kilns that can produce at least 700 large size water pots or over 3,000 vases. It takes at least one week to make a good pot which can stand the test of time.
“Because of inaccessibility of modern technology and lacking of financial supports, unfortunately a few pottery businesses are left to continue their traditional pottery work,” said Daw Hnyar.
Twantay was once a boom town in pottery business with around seventy pottery businesses. Today, there are only sixteen traditional pottery businesses. Majority of them are the small ones.
Many small pottery business owners are facing the same problem to keep running smoothly even though the pottery market is still in demand.
Lacking enough finance is not the only problem for them. Difficulty to explore the new market is the another challenge that is facing the industry.
They do not have enough funds to make ceramic wares in advance and have to wait for order so they could get payment in advance to process it. Because of it, they do not earn good enough or make any profit out of their products since they have to sell the finished products instantly for reimbursement.
Moreover, some traditional bourgeois who control the market taking advantage over those small pottery owners of financial aspect. They sometimes order pots to small pottery owners by charging payment in advance. Some of those middle class persons also possess their owned kilns and workers to make different sort of pots.
Production site of middle class pottery business with grinding machine
(Photo - Nyeinchan Win/ EMG)
Middle class owners run the business with better solvency and technology like using grinding machine whereas small owners have to manually crush clay and mud without good efficiency.
One of the middle class business runners is Daw Hla Yee. She possesses the pottery operating site with large kilns and grinding machine. She is a wholesale and retail ceramic wares dealer. Her shop does the painting parts for finished products and marketing.
It is obvious that either middle or small owners love their traditional pottery heritage.
Daw Hla Yee said “the pottery is our customary profession for generations and we have been exporting ceramic wares to across the country and taking orders as well. We’ve been known for many years. It is good to have financial assistance to expand the business.”
Myanmar pottery market is still vitalized across the whole country no matter how much the displacement of purified PH7 gallon bottles in big cities are.
Daw Hnyar said “people are still using Myanmar traditional earthen water pots, planters, vases and pots across the country. Because it can be lasted forever until one breaks it purposely and using them is our tradition.”
Myanmar people have been using ceramic wares as their traditional consumer goods in various ways such as cooking, planting, dinning and so on since ancient time.
Pottery industry in Twantay has been encountered with recession in recent few years due to the cyclone Nargis hit in 2008. Chairman of Myanmar Ceramics Society, Dr. Myo Thant Tin, arranged loan program for small and middle class pottery business owners who were impinged by the cyclone. The arrangement is being made through the First Private Bank (Myanmar).
Today, Twantay pottery industry has rehabilitated to some extent thanks to such fund raising. However, small pottery business owners are still struggling to survive in the industry, expecting further assistance of financial or technology.
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