Imphal, Jan 27 (PTI) Manipur's Machihan Sasa said his dream is to train the unemployed youths so that the legacy of black pottery can be passed on to generation after generation.
Sasa has been chosen for the Padma Shri award this year.
The 74-year-old Sasa said he has dedicated more than five decades to preserving the art of black pottery.
"I learnt the art from my father when I was 20 years of age. I have trained some 70 youths of which four five have received state-level awards. However, my greatest regret is not being able to teach more due to the economic hardship," Sasa told PTI through his personal secretary Themreichan Sharon.
"I would like to train the unemployed youths as long as I have strength. My only dream now is to train them with full set of infrastructure as well as to establish a museum at my place to display all types of pottery items so that the legacy of black pottery can be passed down to generation after generation" Sasa said.
Talking about the much-needed unique clay which goes on to make the signature Longpi black pottery, Sasa, a resident of Longpi Kajui in Ukhrul district, said in earlier days, the clay was taken freely from a place called Salah at Nungbi Khullen village but these days with rising demands and commercialisation, the clay has to be purchased at Rs 700 per tin.
He said it is a "risky task" to get the clay during the rainy season.
"How much we earn depends on the number of demands we receive. During the right season, we could earn around Rs 75,000, however, the income during the rainy season, would be none" Sasa said.
The finished potteries are sold at Dilli Haat, in district towns and occasionally at Imphal.
"Potteries in Manipur are not made with potter's wheel like in other parts of the country. Instead, the special clay mixed with black rock is moulded into a desired shape with the help of a wooden hammer and a polished stone", he said, adding "It is a laborious task".
The popularity of Longpi black pottery has gone up in the last two decades. There is a general belief that the taste of foods especially meats is enhanced if cooked in this black earthenware.
Sasa was awarded the State award for Master Craftsman for the year 1986-87 and is also a recipient of the prestigious SHILP Guru award in 2010.
"We did receive some assistance from the government but what we have received so far are for a meagre amount and no major projects or schemes have been entitled" the master craftsman said. PTI COR RG