Machihan Sasa Moulding A Niche In Pottery Crafts

Urmila Chanam
Posted December 11, 2019 from India
Black Pottery from Manipur, India
Machihan Sasa the man behind Longpi Black Pottery in his workshop recalls the help from Rahul Gandhi in buying a personal vehicle to support his work (1/2)

The story of Manipur’s black pottery from Longpi

A unique pottery made from a mix of ground black serpentine stone and special brown clay found only in Longpi in Ukhrul district in Manipur is gaining popularity in different parts of India and across the globe for its rustic appeal, utility as a cooking pot with inherent non-stick quality, ideal for steaming and making stews or as a serving dish, vast range of  designs but most of all, because it comes from indigenous people, the Tangkhuls.

The ancient art from Longpi Kajui village and Longpi Khullen, 31 kms from Ukhrul district headquarters on NH 150, is now becoming the source of urban merchandise on sale and display in many of the handicraft, and art and culture exhibitions organised in the country.

The credit largely goes to Machihan Sasa from Longpi who founded the Sasa Hampai Pottery Training Cum Production Centre, has been making these black- stone pottery since his childhood after learning the art from his father and selling it through different distribution outlets. Many young aspirants and his son Mathew Sasa have benefitted from his mentoring and many of them have opened their own small- scale industry initiatives.

While taking us on a tour in his production centre, showing the many workshops within the compound and explaining the process involved in making these unique black pots, Machihan Sasa shared why pottery- making can help in a scenario like the one in Manipur infected with serious unemployment and frustration among young people and families.

“Everyone should not be aspiring for government services and entrepreneurship like pottery -making can make people economically sound and even place them in a position to be giving jobs to others.”

Though he has had his own struggles in sustaining and promoting the black pottery, his dedication and resolve to not let the challenges bog him down, are awe inspiring for which he was awarded the National Awards Certificate in 1988 and Shilp Awards in 2008 by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India for his contribution towards art and craft.

Steps in making Longpi Black Pottery: The ground serpentine stone and special clay are mixed, pots manually shaped, polished, sun-dried and baked over a bonfire. Takes a total of 6-10 days process. Picture attached.

The champion comes from a place where the economy driven largely by agriculture, selling forest products like honey, bamboo, cane, timber etc in Ukhrul Bazar and Yangangpokpi Bazar where the local population sell away their products in addition to handloom and handicraft, livestock, poultry and sericulture faces the barrier imposed from weak communication linkages since the days of tribal chiefs and the Imphal-Ukhrul road, 78 kms in length remains the only connecting road in Ukhrul.  

In a region where the major challenges to sustain business are marketing and distribution owing to isolation, poor quality roads or a total absence of  connecting roads and lack of infrastructure, here is a man who is never giving up on the dream of building a larger training centre, a guest house to host the foreign and domestic tourists who come to visit him every year and Longpi Pottery to become a hallmark of Manipur’s tribal heritage.

The writer is an award-winning rural reporter for print and radio.

This story was submitted in response to Men & Boys.

Comments 10

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Anita Shrestha
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you for sharing

maeann
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hi Urmila,

Thank you for sharing. I have a dream that someday I would make a pot too :)

Wusufor
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hi Urmila,
How are you? Wow I love this story of your pottery. Are you a person of pottery?
We also have such pottery in Africa here. Now most are replace with modern cook wares. It sad though. However, in some villages here, they are still used.
We store water in some, cook food in some etc. The water storage, I tell you when you drink water from it. It's like fridge chilled water.

How amazing there are. Thanks for sharing.
Regards

Jill Langhus
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hi Urmila,

How are you doing, dear? Thanks for sharing your lovely and informative article about this beautiful pottery. So, do you know how many generations this pottery goes back? I hope that his dream of building a training center comes to fruition.

Hope you're well and having a great day!

XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, sister Urmila,

This is a very informative post about pottery. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of it. You are truly a gifted writer. Were you able to try to create a pot of your own?

Beth Lacey
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

A great story, Urmila!

Paulina Nayra
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Dear sister Urmila,
I would love to have one of those pots. I'll buy one when I go to Manipur, one day.
You are a great promoter!
Huggsss

otahelp
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

hand crafts are always the best thing people can acquire. i know that craft is not easy to learn but with determination we shall get there. thank you for sharing. pottery is a loving art and craft

Sister Zeph
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

My beautiful leader my sister Urmila, you are a real change, and I love you so much and I love your great mission, what a courageous leader you are

leila Kigha
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

We do have a lot of things in our African cultures that could become wide spread and used like this pottery. It is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.