Art & Culture

Herat’s pottery business faces collapse amid market challenges

The pottery industry in Herat is at risk of collapse as demand for its products continues to decline. Despite this, local potters are determined to keep the ancient craft alive, even as sales plummet.

Potters attribute the drop in sales to the influx of steel and plastic products, which have increasingly replaced traditional pottery items. Hekmatullah Ghulami, a veteran potter, expressed frustration over the lack of support for the industry. Ghulami, who crafts bowls, flowerpots, and other pottery items, emphasized the unique cultural value of Herat’s pottery.

“Fortunately, the pottery art in Afghanistan, particularly in Herat, has remained alive. The Herat pottery products are very special,” Ghulami said.

Ceramic sellers in Herat have also voiced concerns about the weakening market. They note that jars, bowls, and other metal and plastic tools have supplanted many ceramic products, leading to a significant drop in customers. Nonetheless, some enthusiasts continue to support ceramic products, and a few residents still prefer working as potters.

Mohammad Haroon, a Herat resident, urged people to revive the market for domestic products by using them. “It is country-made. Drinking water from this [pot] is a blessing. It is also traditional,” Haroon said.

Pottery is one of Herat’s most ancient and historic industries, with a history spanning hundreds of years. In the past, dozens of pottery workshops operated in Herat, producing nearly seventy types of pottery products. Today, however, only three workshops remain active.