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Art & Craft of Passion with Clay

Malaysia, Selangor Seramik Kraftangan


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How to throw a hump on a pottery wheel?
(small ceramic plate)

Cindy Koh of Clay Expression, Malaysia, demonstrates; How to produce multiple small clay plates by throwing off the hump on a pottery wheel? Throwing off the hump improves the speed of production.



Cindy is a pottery teacher in Malaysia, she conducts Clay classes and ceramic workshops. To start learning clay craft or pottery in Malaysia click here

How to trim a small plate on the pottery wheel?

Cindy Koh of Clay Expression, Malaysia, demonstrates on the pottery wheel; How to center, using the tap centering technique and trimming a small plate without having to anchor the plate down?



Cindy is a pottery teacher in Malaysia, she conducts clay classes and ceramic workshops

Making a plate without centering

Cindy Koh of Clay Expression demonstrates; How to make a plate on the potter's wheel without centering the clay?






The magic touch of the potter.

Like an expert magician, P. Arumugam deftly moulded and shaped the Clay dough with his hands and within seconds a perfectly symmetrical medium sized pot begins to take shape.

Using only a traditional spinning potters wheel, his pot formed beautifully in perfect shape and size. One wonders just how he did it, and getting the size right, too.


Arumugam hard at work at the potter’s wheel

That comes with years
and years of practice,” said P. Kamalanathan, a close friend of Arumugam. Arumugam has been a potter for more than 30 years. He is the third generation of a potter family from Kuala Selangor.

So it is no surprise that Kamalanathan, who is organising the National Ponggal Festival at KL Tower today, sought Arumugam’s help as he wants only the best ponggal pots for the function.

Arumugam’s grandfather Vengadasalam started a small-time pottery business in the early 1920s operating from their humble abode in Kuala Selangor. His son Perumal took over the family business in the 1950s



  Since as a child, Arumugam had always helped out in the family business and when the time came, he took over the reins from his father. He bought a one-acre plot of land in Kuala Selangor, where he built his factory, and started to diversify.

“We’ve been in the pottery business for almost a hundred years now and throughout that time I noticed that the traditional way of doing things has always produced better results,” the 40-year-old potter said.

According to Arumugam, for mass production, the traditional methods are not feasible. Hence, he has installed modern moulding machines to enable him to produce 250 pots a day. At present, his factory Aru Enterprise is using modern means to cater to the demand for pots for today’s Ponggal festival.

Ponggal, celebrated by Tamils all over the world, is a reminder to mankind to give thanks to Mother Nature who has provided mankind with grain, rice, and other bounties.

An important aspect of the festival is the ritual of boiling milk rice called Chakkarai ponggal. New clay pots are used to boil the ponggal.

“The new pots signify a new year. For Hindus, the Tamil New Year, which falls on April 14, is usually taken as the start of the new year. But for Tamils, whether Hindus, Christians and even Muslims, the Ponggal day is celebrated as the New Year,” Kamalanathan said.


  Kamalanathan and M. Ravi choosing pots for the Ponggal festival.

“It’s a cultural celebration to give thanks and has no religious overtones. Over here in Malaysia, since introducing the People’s Ponggal celebration in 2003 in Rawang, more and more people have become aware of the festival and are celebrating it,” he said.

According to Kamalanathan, the ponggal was even been listed as an event for the Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

Arumugam is also exporting the pots to Singapore and Brunei. His pots retails from RM3.30 to RM20 each, depending on size and designs. “We started work in November last year, producing 250 pots a day. I have seven workers working 14 hours a day to meet the demand,” he said.

Spilling over with blessings for the family PONGGAL, which literally means to “boil over”, is a 5,000-year-old harvest festival celebrated by Tamil farmers in India. The festival is celebrated for three days beginning Jan 13 to Jan 16




  A. Anand, Arumugam’s 14-year-old son,
also lends his hand to the pottery business

The first day is called Bhogi and is the ritual of throwing and burning old things to mark the end of the old and beginning of the new.

The second day is the Veetu Ponggal, the main celebration when the Tamils give thanks to Mother Nature. Then there is the Maatu Ponggal, the cow worship, when farmers give thanks to cattle, as they help plough the land and provide milk for the family.

Finally, the Kanni Ponggal is a celebration for young unmarried girls.

To prepare for the festival, a through spring cleaning would be carried out in every household and fresh mango leaves are hung at the doorway and sugar cane used to decorate the house.

One of the key rituals is the cooking of the milk in a pot. New earthenware pots would be used to boil the sweet rice or chakkarai ponggal, which is made from rice, jaggery, raisins, sugar, milk and ghee.

One is encouraged to watch the pot boil over spilling the rice and when this happens, the cries of Ponggal oh Ponggal will be followed with shouts of excitement and laughter signifying that one’s home is blessed and that the family can look forward to prosperity.

Acknowledgment of information source: The Star M E T R O Tuesday January 15, 2008. Title: The magic touch of the potter. By BAVANI M



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