The Exquisitely designed pottery, flowerpots in various shapes and sizes, jars, antelope heads and horses and multipurpose decorative items :

The array is too beautiful to be ignored. On display at the Andhra Pradesh Handicrafts Exhibition at Prahlada Kalyana mandapam in Visakhapatnam, the traditional handicrafts are attracting crowds. The amount of hard work put in by artisans is reflected in the intricate designs. "We have been turning the wheel for generations now. While our ancestors made just pots, we learnt to draw designs on them and made some value addition. Our products command a good market in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Kerala" says K.Venkata Ramana who is displaying his wares at the exhibition. The small earthenware exported to Malaysia three months ago was an instant hit there. Transportation of bigger products is a difficult proposition as any negligence in handling would result in breakage. The high transportation cost in view of the heavy weight, is another stumbling block in exporting them.

Venkata Ramana, who has studied upto fifth class, has been making designer pottery for past ten years. "In the early days, there was not much awareness among people about pottery and there were hardly any buyers. Their use in films and in posh apartment complexes has popularized our art." He says. A member of the self help group in Palmaner in Chittoor district, he says there are three more SHGs in his village. "Dispite being an SHG member for last one year, no loan has been granted to me. My brother, Venkataratnam, who has studied upto B.A., has also joined the ancestral profession." he says. While the men artisans show their dexterity in turning the wheel, the women are experts in drawing intricate designs. The men sweat it out for seven hours a day but their monthly income is as low as Rs.2,000/-

The exhibition also showcases lace items from Narsapur, artistic textiles and sarees from chirala, Mangalagiri, Pochampalli and Gadwal, Kondapalli toys, Hyderabad pearls, wooden carvings and leather goods.

( Roprt by B.Madhu Gopal ; Photo by;R.K.Deepak ; Curtesy : The Hindu Daily dated 4-1-2004)