KB Jinan is the founder of KUMBHAM, an artisan community that has rehabilated itself from the brink of losing its craft, and is now redefining it for the modern world. KUMBHAM is located in Aruvacode, a hamlet near Nilambur in Malapuram district of Kerala. Today KUMBHAM can claim that it has facilitated a product range of over 500 designs including kitchenware, garden amenities, furniture, office ware, murals, landscaping products and other accessories. Mr Jinan states that one his goals is not merely showcase terracotta as nostalgic substitute for plastic and steel, but as a state of the art material, to create wholesome products, both aesthetically pleasing and extremely useful. To those of us in the general public, to whom terracotta is just unpainted pottery, this is revelatory and thought provoking.
Mr Jinan says his quest began as a search for identity, authenticity and self-redemption. It was a voyage prompted by deficiencies of formal education, a sense of loss of innate cultural sensibilities. It culminated in the founding of KUMBHAM, engaging a community of potters whose craft was in its death throes, which helped them realize their latent creativity and skills, whose products are sought after.
Mr Jinan's hypothesis is that learning is a biological process, not just a cultural activity. He believes that formal education sets up a conflict between an innate impulse and forced learning process. It is this restoration of learning at Aruvacode that he believes is his true accomplishment, and the revival and renaissance a consequence thereof.