Aminaben Hassam Kumbhar
Aminaben has been painting since she was 12. She is from Sumrasar village and her father was a skilled potter by the name of Hussein Usman. She learnt painting from her mohter.
After her marrage to Hassambhai in Lodai, she began painting for their family business. In 1991, they got a national award for the chambhut (water jug) and tavdo (pan). She got the award jointly with her husband - she for the painting, he for the making of the pot. They are the only potters in Kachchh to have received the national award. She has travelled with her husband to Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Bhopal, and Lucknow for exhibitions and craft demonstrations.
Recently, Hassambhai and Aminaben have been commissioned by Ashutosh Gowarikar, a well-known filmmaker, to recreate pottery objects for his upcoming film on Mohen-jo-daro, the ancient Harappan city in what is now Pakistan.
Fatimaben Ismael Kumbhar
Fatimaben was born and married in Lodai. She learnt her painting skills from her mother and mother in law. She has not travelled much outside Lodai except once, when a ceramic artist called her to Baroda. Her daughters Jamila and Hazra are now painting with her for the family business. They make brushes out of bamboo sticks and work with natural materials. Their designs are inspired by nature. In Lodai, the women work together on the bulk orders they receive.
Hurbai Mamad Kumbhar
Hurbai is 55 years old and has been painting pots since she was 15. Her parents died when she was still very young, so she was brought up by her relatives in the village of Nirona. She was married by the time she was 14 years old, and her mother in law taught her how to paint pots. Her husband’s family used to supply earthenware to the Rabari herders and the Ahir farming communities. The Rabaris were very demanding customers - they had a liking for fine figurative motifs and embellishment, and liked the color black. Her paintings reflect this style. Later, with her husband, she travelled to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Baroda, and Ahmedabad for exhibitions and demonstrations. She is known for her openness and generosity with students and designers, and has charmed many visitors with her knowledge and warmth.
Parshaben Ramzu Kumbhar
Like her mother Saraben, 40 year old Parshaben is a feisty woman. She learnt her fine painting skills from her mother and grandmother. However, since her marriage in Lodai, she has been busy with her young family and has not had the kind of exposure her mother has had until now. She is an active earning member of the household. Her husband helps her in her work from time to time, and she has travelled to Agra and Bhopal for exhibitions in the past.
As you enter the historical village of Lakhpat, you see old buildings, temples and mosques; the material witness of a once flourishing center. As you reach the end of the village, you will find the only potter’s family in the village, still practicing on his solitary wheel. His family has lived in Lakhpat for seven generations.
Iliyasbhai Kumbhar, 72 years old, has been a potter for 60 years. Where once there were 40 families of potters here, now only Iliyasbhai still makes tavdis for the local market. He make up to 100 tavdis a day when the market is good.
His family brings clay from a pond which is 14 km away from Lakhpat. There were once three large kilns in Lakhpat, said to be about 150 years old. These can still be seen as mounds near the city's boundary walls. Iliyasbhai says they belonged to his grandfather and grand uncles called Haroon, Hasam and Talab. There used to be around 20 people working together in each kiln at 20 paisa labour charge a day. They were producing thousands of naliyas per day. These were being exported from the Lakhpat port.
One of Iliyasbhai’s younger sons, Rashid does pottery work but he also began fishing in the sea to get extra income. Fishing is hard work, especially at the border waters of Lakhpat. He needs to be out at sea for 3-4 days, there is a risk of bad weather and being pulled into the territorial waters of Pakistan. He remains committed to continue pottery as long as there remains a requirement from communities and markets.