Pottery An ancient art that should be preserved | Sunday Observer

Pottery An ancient art that should be preserved

20 November, 2022

Pottery is the main handicraft industry in our motherland. It depends mainly on man-power and inborn talents. Pottery has a traditional background and a long history. Its history goes back to the Second Century BC. This industry was passed down from one generation to another.


A number of pottery items have been discovered dating back to the early stages of history in Sri Lanka. These include Anuradhapura Gedige, Tissamaharamaya and Kandarodai in Jaffna. Those pottery items bear witness to the marvelous skills of people of a bygone era.


A form of Sri Lankan pottery called Kumbalkaru in Sinhala showcase a fabulous ingrained talent for manufacturing pottery items and carvings.

Although the pottery industry is usually popular in the whole island, it is mainly located near river valleys such as the Kelani and Gin rivers.

Main substance

The main substance used in the Sri Lankan pottery industry is clay which is found in the Nattandiya, Ranala, Dediyawala, Meetiyagoda and Boralesgamuwa areas.

There are three types of clay varieties used in the production of pottery - red clay, white clay and ball clay.

Red clay is commonly available in Sri Lanka and it is mixed with sand and grits. This type of clay is used to make tiles and bricks. After polishing this variety of clay, it is used to make pottery. This clay is obtained from the Natthandiya area. White clay is needed for making porcelain and ceramics. After it is mixed with other materials, white clay can also be used in manufacturing pottery.

Ball clay’s basic component is kaolin. It has small deposits. High quality kaolin is mostly found in Meetiyagoda in the south-western region and Boralesgamuwa.


The traditional potter’s main wheel is called Sakaporuwa. It has a traditional Sri Lankan uniqueness. The potter moulds the pile of raw clay into an artistry design. The earthenware takes different shapes in the hands of potters and they work with patience and dedication. Two types of Sakaporu are used in this industry. One is mainly churned using the leg manually and the other one is driven by an electric motor.

Walanthalana Lalla and Mati Aluwa are also used for making pottery items.

Fabulous creations

Potters create amazing pottery items such as Paaththaraya, Guruleththu (goblets), Meti Pahan (clay glims), mugs, dishes, plates, flower pots, firewood cookers and ornaments.

Earthenware is very useful for a healthy life. The pottery industry is also an attraction to foreigners helping the tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

The art of pottery is an ancestral heritage and should be protected for future generations.


Mihi Deegodage Pic: Dushmantha Mayadunne