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Asharikandi Terracotta Cluster, Dhubri, Assam

In the Dhubri district of Assam the terracotta activity is practiced widely in the village of Asharikandi. The people of this village have been practicing terracotta down through several generations. Here it is seen that every household of the village are fully involved in terracotta activity and has taken it as the primary means of livelihood. The practice of terracotta in Asharikandi presents a unique case where both pottery and terracotta are practiced in traditional way for which Asharikandi is known as Terracotta craft village.

Before the partition of India, a few potter families from erstwhile East Bengal, at present Bangladesh, migrated to this place of Asharikandi.

It is said that the term Asharikandi derived from the combination of two words 'Ashar' and 'Kandi'. Ashar

is the third month in Assamese calendar, and kandi (an Assamese the term meaning 'shedding tears'). During rainy season heavy rainfall causes flood in this low lying area. The villages shed tears out of misery caused by the havoc of flood. The potters have to suffer a lot; they cannot make, dry up, burn their products and cannot even store their products during rainy season of Ashar, the flood prone month. The senior most villagers opined that they selected the place due to its nearness to raw materials, cheaper transportation facility and its strategic location.

The main raw material, hiramati (clay soil) lie in the nearby areas of Silaipar, which is only four kilometers from the village. Owing to the location the raw material is transported through waterways, as the village is located just at the bank of the river Gadadhar, a tributary of river Brahmaputra. Earlier the needs of the Jamindar (Royal) family use of ware and utensils were catered from this area since this potter community migrated to this place. It is said that the activity of this craft in the village dates back more than 100 years. The cluster has about 588 artisans spread over different villages, which includes SC, OBC communities.  

Products of Cluster: In Asharikandi traditional potters used to produce functional wares as well as decorative items. In functional wares they make pitchers, jars, water containers, earthen utensils, tandoor ovens, planters, flower vase, parts of tabla and mridang (Indian musical instrument) etc. In decorative products they produce various idols of God and Goddess, animal figures, birds, lamp stands, toys, masks, decorative vases and wall hangings etc. The price of these products varies as per the market conditions and occasions.

Location and Geography Asharikandi is located 14 km away from Dhubri, 3 km from Gauripur and 1 km from NH-31 under the Devitola Block. It comprises of five villages that is Madaikhali, Palpara, Baganpara, Bogurapara and Sikasipara. The terracotta craft is practiced only in the Madaikhali village. The nearest big cities are Guwahati in Assam, Coochbehar and Siliguri in West Bengal.