Thimi Travel Guide

  • Things to Do
    by Anniko
  • Things to Do
    by Anniko
  • Things to Do
    by Anniko

Thimi Things to Do

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    by Anniko Updated Nov 30, 2013

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    Thimi’s terracotta pottery tradition, that’s thrived for centuries, is in danger of becoming extinct, due to descendants seeking more lucrative livelihoods. This concern has caused some families to modernize. One of the best known of these is Thimi Ceramics, founded by traditional potter, Santa Bahadur Prajapati. His two sons, Santa and Laxmi have brought the dream of their father to life.

    In 1985, the Prajapati family established one of the earliest workshops to use electric wheels, instead of the spinning truck tyre filled with concrete. Then in 2004, they became the first producer of glazed stoneware ceramics in Nepal. These are fired at higher temperatures, making them stronger and safer for food use. Traditional earthenware products, fired much lower, don’t have the same durability in dishwashers or microwaves, and aren’t as resistant to chips.

    I was introduced to the brothers, by my host, Surendra, who also bears the surname Prajapati, meaning a descendant of the Newar caste of potters. Although his father was a traditional potter, Surendra became the founder and principal of a local school.

    Over a cup of tea, the owners of Thimi Ceramics revealed they imported the stoneware clay from India. They also described studying different techniques overseas. The Prajapati brothers then showed us the brick kilns, and modern electric wheels used to create their dinner sets, teapots, cups, etc. We were given the opportunity to view these items in various stages of production.

    Twenty people are employed by the company. Men work at the wheel, and do the heavier work, while women are engaged in finishing-off techniques, and wrapping of completed orders for shipping to Europe.

    Thimi Ceramics strongly believes in preserving the practice of pottery made by hand. Their designs strive to retain the spirit of Nepal, while also introducing a contemporary touch.

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    by Anniko Written Nov 28, 2013

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    Thimi is famous for their production of terracotta utensils and sculptures, a tradition that’s existed for hundreds of years. The town is one of the oldest and most important pottery making centers of Nepal. I had the rare opportunity to participate, in the lives of the people, belonging to this unique community.

    Every day, I wandered through narrow alleys paved with brick, and observed locals making earthenware items, using methods practiced since ancient periods. Time appeared to have stood still in this old part of Thimi. The scenes witnessed by my eyes, would have occurred centuries ago.

    In the entrance of a house composed of mud-brick walls, an old man formed pots on a spinning truck tyre filled with concrete. Down another lane, a man wearing a topi, or traditional hat, paddled the sides of a large clay vessel with a wooden mallet, until it was fashioned to a perfect width.

    Women never worked at the wheel, or created wares by paddling. However, many were by their husband’s side, involved in finishing techniques. One was stamping a decoration of white talc, around the rim of a pot, as chooks weaved their way through rows of freshly thrown clay. Another woman, surrounded by unfired terracotta vessels, turned each form, one by one, to ensure the sun’s rays reached every portion.

    Courtyards I stumbled into contained smoldering kilns, at various stages of operation. They appeared as huge ash-covered mounds. Hundreds of earthenware pots, carefully stacked between layers of straw, underwent a three day smoke-firing process.

    Unfortunately, this ancient craft is in danger of dying out. The younger generation doesn’t wish to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors, so seek better economic opportunities after completing their education. Although visually aging, we can only hope the current potters of Thimi, won’t be the last to preserve a tradition that’s thrived for centuries.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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