The Kotas are the potters of the Nilgiris. Their pottery is oxidised by dusting it with the husk of saamai while baking , to provide them immunity aganist poisonous stings. The advent of aluminum in the twentieth century has thrown them out of a job, forcing them to work as landless labour in the tea and potato gardens. Their traditional terracotta jewellery is now replaced by gold, forcing them into near – penury.
The C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation has, with the support of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, funded the Kotas to turn their pottery traditions into an art form, and recreate their intricately – worked terracotta necklaces.
A young terracotta artist from Chennai was recruited to help them upgrade their skills.
The C. P. R. Environmental Education Centre has been working in the Nilgiris since 1989 to preserve its ecology, especially the forests and wildlife. By buying a piece of pottery or jewellery, you will be providing a lawful income to the Kotas and contributing to the conservation of the tropical forests of the Nilgiris.
The C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation was established in 1966 and is situated in Chennai. It has set up four units –
C. P. R. Environmental Education Centre
C. P. Art Centre
C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Institute of Indological Research
Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre for Children (for children with Autism, Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities).