Pottery trade on brink of extinction [Archives:2003/629/Culture]

March 31 2003

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
Historically, Yemenis have been famous for many handicrafts and traditional hand trades including making ceramic pottery.
Pottery used to be very much in demand during the past decades because it was used for more than one purpose; for cooking, serving food and traditional coffee, and cooling water, etc.
Yet during the last few years, pottery production has witnessed a severe decline. Plastic industry took over, so did metal and glass cookware.
This was probably due to the new industries that emerged in Yemen. However, pottery still has a place in the hearts of millions of Yemenis, but is definitely less in use today. Most of the Sheikhs in tribal areas and villages still maintain the old traditions of serving food to guests in pottery and mud utensils, which in some ways save the trade from extinction.
This industry provides a source of income for handicraftsmen especially in the present circumstances when job opportunities are extremely scarce. Hence, the disappearance of this trade would have catastrophic consequences on this section of the community.
Pottery markets are many in the old city of Sana'a and in other cities as well. A visitor would easily find them in a variety of colors and shapes, attracting consumers and tourists.
Pottery specialists claim that in spite of the decline in the production and trade of pottery and ceramic products, yet the industry gained a lot of importance because it is an inherited trade throughout generations, where handicraftsmen come with their products to the local markets.
The pottery industry could be classified according to its size and use as follows:
1. Porridge utensils
2. Water Pipes (Shisha) tobacco holders (Boori)
3. Coffee cups and utensils
4. Meat and vegetable dishes
5. Vases and flower containers
6. Water containers and coolers
7. Stoves and cooking ovens
In addition to many other uses, pottery still is of great economic value and requires attention and support from concerned establishments and bodies so as to maintain this beautiful trade and keep it growing.