Potter Sidiq chose to make Kashmiri musical instrument Tumbaknari for a living – The Dispatch

Recalling the time when Sidiq said, “We used to get large orders from Kashmiri pandits to make earthen plates and utensils which they used in the wedding ceremony. But after their exodus from the valley, this traditional trade suffered enormously”.

Srinagar: Potter Mohammad Sidiq, 51, spends his whole day making a centuries-old clay backed Kashmiri musical instrument Tumbaknari on an electric wheel for a living.

An age-old musical instrument originating from Jammu and Kashmir, the Tumbaknari is an earthen form used for singing in all Kashmir functions, especially during weddings, with its roots tracing all the way back to Iran or Central Asia.

Sidiq who was unable to continue his education beyond 10th standard due to poverty, making at least 50 Tumbaknari a day at his Brain Srinagar workshop near home enables him to earn a living to feed his family.

It receives large orders from dealers almost throughout the year who sell them on the market after covering one side of the instrument with leather. A large Tumbakhnari costs Rs 250 and a small Rs 150 at the market.

Sidiq said a special type of soil was brought from Budgam district in central Kashmir to make the clay instrument. This type of clay cannot be used to grow vegetables or make houses, he added.

However, he said the government has now banned clay mining from the area, which could harm this traditional activity. He urged the government to allow the excavation of the earth so that this tradition could continue to earn a living.

Recalling the time when Sidiq said, “We used to get large orders from Kashmiri pandits to make earthen plates and utensils which they used in the wedding ceremony. But after their exodus from the valley, this traditional trade suffered enormously”.

Sidiq said even flower pot orders used to be big business for him, but he also said that has also gone down.

However, he remains all day busy happily making Tumbakhnari’s musical instrument, he added.

Sidiq said, “I often get orders for other pottery items, but being concerned about making Tumbakhnari items, I sometimes even reject them with a good offer”.

He said, “My children are not interested in making clay pots, even though I ask them to learn how to keep this traditional business going.”

He praised the government of Jammu and Kashmir for providing an electric wheel for making the clay pots. Previously, a terracotta, locally known as “Czratt”, was used by potters.

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