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NCA Rawalpindi ceramics studio

Rawalpindi, Oct 24: A brand new section of Ceramics, at National College of Arts Rawalpindi campus, will be operative by the middle of November this year, said Director in-charge Nasir Malik.

The ceramics courses at NCA Rawalpindi campus, envisioned by Prof Nazish Ataullah, Principal NCA Lahore campus, are planned for the regular day scholars as well as evening short courses for the general public. A professional ceramic kiln has already been installed and ceramic wheels are also in place, he said.

The director NCA said that efforts are underway to convince CDA, and its creative Chairman Kamran Lashari to preferably allocate land for National College of Art's campus in Islamabad adjacent to the most ideal place -- Saidpur Village -- due its long pottery heritage and congenial environment. The Arts College and Saidpur will provide a permanent venue for perpetual artistic interactivity to both for carrying our heritage further.

He said that Saidpur, a little village, famous for its pottery, is part of Islamabad today. It is located off the Hill Road to the east of Daman-e-Koh. Saidpur was founded by Sultan Said Khan son of Sultan Sarang Khan. He gave his daughter in marriage to Mughal Prince Saleem who later became Emperor Jehangir. The village was considered a garden resort and a perpetual spring provided water for drinking and for watering gardens around during the Mughal period. It is said that this area has been used by Buddhists, Hindus and finally by many Muslim saints and carries a long heritage of potters as main thread.

While giving details about pottery and importance of ceramics the director said that the art form and its creation known as pottery is the ceramic ware made by potters. In everyday usage, the term is taken to encompass a wide range of ceramics, including earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. The places where such wares are made are called potteries, while in art colleges it's called ceramics studio.

He said nowadays the pottery is made by putting a piece of damp clay on the potter's wheel and then one forms the clay into ball and slap it in the centre of a potter's wheel, and shape it while the wheel is turning. Pottery made on the wheel is always cylindrical (more or less, depending on the skill of the potter!) When the clay is shaped, it is taken off the wheel and air dried slowly for at least a week, then it is baked in a kiln. When the piece comes out of the kiln it is called 'bisque-ware'. When it cools down, it could be covered with a glaze, and here one can be as artistically creative as one like. He said potters usually leave the bottom of the piece unglazed so that it won't get stuck to the shelf. After glazing the piece is baked again, and if stoneware is used, this time it is fired to a much higher temperature. About a day after the firing the kiln will be cool enough to open and have a finished piece of handmade pottery.

While giving the history of the pottery the director said that the present knowledge of ancient science and technology is based entirely on what we have uncovered at archaeological sites. When researchers first started finding things belonging to ancient peoples, they formed ideas about how those people lived and operated in their society. As more information came to light, many ideas had to be changed. New discoveries enabled researchers to get a clearer picture of how certain areas of the ancient world practiced their trade. Many of the new discoveries had to do with pottery. There is now an abundance of information telling us about ancient potters, concerning how they produced their wares and to where these wares were sold, as part of one of the most ancient businesses.

The history dates back to Middle East around 4000 BC (6000 BP) where the village settlements were growing in size and prosperity. In what is today southern Iraq, or Ancient Mesopotamia, the first urban civilization was being created; villages grew into towns and then towns into the great city states: Ur, Uruk, Ubaid, Eridu, Lagesh etc. By 3000 BC, the people of these cities, the Sumerians, had already established a sophisticated trading commercial culture.

This was the first town and city based civilization on this planet. New crafts and occupations evolved. More skills and tools were invented then. The principle of the wheel was discovered earliest in southern Iraq (Mesopotamia). By discovering the principle of the wheel, the Sumerians were able to give up pulling provisions or people along on sledges or dragging heavy objects over a series of logs. They devised how to construct the first carts and chariots. Women almost certainly developed the techniques of sewing, weaving and basket making in most prehistoric communities. They were probably also the first real potters -- the makers of bowls, dishes, jugs etc. Later men took this skill from women and used it for their commercial trade. The News

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