About THIMI Pottery
The Newar village of Thimi is the biggest and best-known pottery village in Nepal. The historical city of Thimi is also known as the main settlement of Prajapatis. Prajapati is a special clan of indigenous pot makers who are well-known within and beyond Nepal as expert artists. The majority of Prajapatis live in Bode, Chapacho 8, 10 and 11 wards of Balkumari. 57% of their population resides in Chapacho. Among them 1200 are involved in potteries. Thimi is located approximately seven miles outside the capital city of Kathmandu. Newars are the original settlers of Kathmandu Valley, and the potters of Thimi have been making pots for centuries according to the caste tradition.
The proximity of the potters’ workshops to one another has created a working environment of cooperation that has existed for hundreds of years in the village.
Potters do everything by hand such as mixing the clay, kneading after moisten to the right consistency, making, beating and finishing with some decoration. Clay is kneaded again by hand before throwing it on huge wheels made of truck tires set into the ground on a ball bearing.
After the pots are completed they are dried in the sun, and then fired in communal kilns, that are built and destroyed every four days.
Pots are stacked up, covered with straw and ash, and then burned in a smoky firing. Smoke and ash billow through the town’s streets. When the fire subsides and the ash is swept away, the pots are left to cool. After the firing process, those pots used to be carried around to different villages in yokes and were sold door-to-door. Today most potters transport by vehicles to shops.
Most of the potters in Thimi adhere to the arduous traditional methods in which every aspect of pottery production is completed manually—from mixing and drying the clay to powering the wheel. Nowadays, about half of them use modern potting technology such as electrically powered wheels and electric pug mills for clay mixing.
Traditional unglazed earthenware potters all over Nepal work extremely hard for little economic compensation. In recent years, most of the old pots have been replaced by cheaper, longer-lasting mass-produced kitchenware made of steel or plastic. Nowadays they continue to make flower pots, yogurt bowls and rakshi (alcohol) distilling pots.