Tip-Toeing Through Bhaktapur’s Potters’ Square

BHAKTAPUR, Nepal — I doubt I’d ever seen as much earthenware as I came across at Bhaktapur Potters’ Square.

On a daily basis, a family of artisans from the Kumale (potters) caste produce scores of pots, bowl, dishes and other fired creations — throwing clay on a wheel, shaping the mounds, firing them in small kilns and drying them in the courtyard located a stone’s throw from Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

Lonely Planet describes it:

On the northern side of the square a small hillock is topped by a shady pipal tree and a Ganesh shrine, surrounded by piles of straw for the pottery kilns. In the square itself is a solid-brick Vishnu Temple, which was constructed from remnants of temples destroyed in the 1934 quake, and the double-roofed Jeth Ganesh Temple, whose priest is chosen from the Kumal (potters’) caste. During the harvest in October, every square inch that is not covered by pots is covered by drying rice.

While the workers met with camera-toting tourists en masse — occasionally asked for donations by locals or offered pottery lessons — I thought it best to keep my distance and allow them to tend to their craft.

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A local artisan works clay on a wheel in Potters’ Square in Bhaktapur, Nepal. At top, pots lay in the sun to dry. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)

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