Pottery is among the earliest arts of mankind. Man must have vessels to carry or keep things, and he made these, first of all, of leaves of trees, of stones, and of clay. Pottery is still an important industry in Pakistani villages, and the skill and dexterity with which a Pakistani potter makes his wares are highly admirable, indeed. No worker in the world can produce such things of such fine and symmetrical shapes with such simple tools.
The implements of a potter are the simplest possible–a wheel and a stick, with which he turns the wheel. Out of the same lump of clay, he produces different kinds of vessels and toys of different shapes and different designs, some oval, some round, and some conical according to the designs in his mind. His fingers, trained to the work, give the lump of clay the requisite shape; and when the thing is ready, he cuts it off with such subtle skill that you hardly perceive it. The work appears to be so easy, and the tools are so simple that you imagine you could do that yourself, but you cannot, no one can, unless he is trained.
The Pakistani potter has centuries of training behind him. His skill is second nature with him. Look at the size of the vessels he throws from his wheel. Earthen jars in Punjab for storing grain and for sugar making are four feet high.
Cups, plates, pitchers, jars, pestles, toys, and numerous other things are made by the potter. These things are dried in the sun after they have been moulded on the wheel, and then baked in the fire. At Multan and other places, glazed pottery, introduced in the time of the Mughals, is very largely practised. This is a fine art, and very beautiful things, especially cups and jars, and glazed tiles are produced, which are seen in the drawing rooms of rich people. The jars or marthans are extensively used for preserving fruits, and for sauces and pickles. It is a pity the industry is dying for want of patronage. With proper encouragement and organisation, it can be made thriving and lucrative.