The Baked Goods. A Fun Terracotta Course in Alor

During my three months “residency” in Alor Kecil, I’d go to the open market on Tuesdays and Fridays, the only days in a week where the open market is open. I’d buy fruits, vegetables, woven baskets, and, of course, snacks. I loved their crafts too, like baskets and earthenware. I was particularly fascinated by their unique earthenware: some resembled ‘kendi’, some looked like an oil lamp portrayed in Biblical cartoons, while others looked like jars you’d find on postcards from Africa.

I got so curious. I talked about it with Acionk and Willy of Air Dive Alor, Oma Mone my host, and pretty much with the people I knew there. Acionk suggested me to find the makers in Alor Kecil and the neighboring village, Lewalu. We talked with several makers about the craft which is still done in a pretty traditional way. I was totally surprised to learn that they do not use a pottery wheel to make containers.

After meeting with Oma Halijah (62) in Lewalu, I asked her to teach me the craft. She was nice and friendly, explaining every question patiently, teaching me every step of making earthenware. Oma perfectly positioned her workshop facing the street, so peaople can see easily. This brings her many customers.

Anyway, it did not occur to me that terracotta making was very difficult, not easy as Play-Doh or modeling clay. Not only it required so much works, but also difficult to shape.  And the methods are painstaking and time-consuming, still done much in “the way our ancestors did” according to Oma Halijah. By the way, I did not know who brought the craft to Alor, presumably, it was brought by Majapahit people centuries ago. There are several records about Majapahit presence in Alor Regency. Interesting, yes?

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What about the baking process? In the absence (or nonexistence) of a kiln, Oma and other earthenware makers use a very traditional way to do so. I upload it in my Instagram account.

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(1/3) The Diving Comedy is now serving homemade donuts! Lots of yummy crazy outrageous "flavors" to satisfy everyone’s cravings. I am launching #TheOriginalClay a collection of hand-painted ‘donat tanah liat’ aka terracotta donuts. Already baked and coated, each donut weighs approx. 140 grams and measures around 7 cm in diameter. These donuts can serve as functional paperweights for your working desk or living room table or as ‘pajangan’ aka ornaments in your ‘lemari kaca’ glass display or your kitchen. Slide 2: Lemon Cream Donut Slide 3: Strawberry Icing Donut Slide 4: Rose Cream Donut Slide 5: Vanilla Donut Slide 6: Avocado Donut Slide 7: BTS pt.1 Slide 8: BTS pt.2 You can purchase the donuts via my Etsy shop. If you have an Indonesian address, you can buy directly via DM. Thank you. #TheOriginalClay #TheOriginalMerchs #terracotta #clay #gerabah #tanahliat #donuts #donat #doughnuts #baking #handmadedonuts #homemadedonuts #freemusicbycatrf #pottery #kerajinangerabah #periuktanah #terakota #paperweights #kitchenornament #ornaments #knickknacks #alor #alorkecil #alorcetar #etsyshop #supportsmall #shopsmall #TheDivingComedy PS: You can read the full article about my making pottery arts and crafts in my website www.thedivingcomedy.com by clicking the link in my bio.

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Although there are a handful of terracotta makers in Alor Kecil and Lewalu, it looks like it is a dying art. A dying skill. It is mostly done by old people. I saw no young people learning the skill. I hope I am wrong. An old lady I spoke to said that people used to use pottery wheels but now broken or lost. Oma Halijah admitted she never used nor owned a pottery wheel. Real pottery wheels can cost a fortune, but a simple hand built ones cost less. I will use some profit from the sales to buy a small pottery wheel for Oma Halijah in Alor. With that, I hope she can produce earthenware faster and have more time to pass her valuable skill to younger people.

Well, it’s not that Oma Halijah does not want to pass her skill, it’s because no youth wants to learn it. Had she not want to do so, she would have rejected me in the first place. With the pottery wheel, I hope she can produce faster and the young people, seeing how “easy” it is with the tool, they want to preserve the terracotta craft.

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