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Potter Kumhar caste British India 1907.jpg
Hindi, Rajasthani, Haryanvi, Awadhi, Gujarati Marathi Punjabi

Kumhar is a caste or community in India and Pakistan. Kumhar literally means potter in Indian languages.[1] It is also known by the names Kumbhara, Kubhara, Kumar, Kumor, Kubar and Khubar.

The Kumhar community is found throughout India, in both Hindu and Muslim religions.[1] Depending upon the subgroup or region they are classified as both Other Backward Class[2] and the Scheduled Caste.[3][4][5][6]


The Kumhars derive their name from the Sanskrit word Kumbhakar meaning earthen-pot maker.[7] Dravidian languages conform to the same meaning of the term Kumbhakar. The term Bhande, used to designate the Kumhar caste, also means pot. The potters of Amritsar are called Kulal or Kalal, the term used in Yajurveda to denote the potter class.[1]

Mythological origin

A section of Hindu Kumhars honorifically call themselves Prajapati after Vedic Prajapati, the Lord, who created the universe.[1]

According to a legend prevalent among Kumhars

Once Brahma divided sugarcane among his sons and each of them ate his share, but the Kumhara who was greatly absorbed in his work, forgot to eat. The piece which he had kept near his clay lump struck root and soon grew into a sugarcane plant. A few days later, when Brahma asked his sons for sugarcane, none of them could give it to him, excepting the Kumhara who offered a full plant. Brahma was pleased by the devotion of the potter to his work and awarded him the title Prajapati.[1]

There is an opinion that this is because of their traditional creative skills of pottery, they are regarded as Prajapati.[8]


The Potters are classified into Hindu and Muslim cultural groups.[1] Among Hindus, inclusion of Artisan castes in Shudra Varna is indisputable. The potters belong to the Shudra group of artisans of Hindu society. They are further divided into two groups-clean caste and unclean caste .[9]

Among the Kumhars are groups such as the Gujrati Kumhar, Rana Kumhar, Lad and Telangi. They all, bear these names after different cultural linguistic zones or caste groups but are termed as one caste cluster.[10]

Distribution in India

Chamba (Himanchal)

The Kumhars of Chamba are expert in making pitchers, Surahis, vessels, grain jars, toys for entertainment and earthen lamps. Some of these pots bear paintings and designs also.[8]

Maharashtra (Marathe)

Kumhars are found in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Sholapur and Pune. They speak in Marathi among themselves but in Marathi as well as Hindi with outsiders. They use Devnagari script for communication.[2] There are Kumbhars who do not belong to Maratha clan lives in Maharashtra and have occupation of making idols and pots.[1] They are aware of the Hindu Varna hierarchy and consider themselves to be the Shudra, the lowest rank.[2]

Madhya Pradesh

Hathretie and Chakretie (or Challakad) Kumhars are found in Madhya Pradesh. Hathretie Kumhars are called so because they traditionally moved the "chak" (potter's wheel) by hands ("hath"). Gola is a common surname among Kumhars in Madhya Pradesh[11] Apart from being listed among OBC, Kumhar caste is categorised as a Scheduled caste in Chhatarpur, Datia, Panna, Satna, Tikamgarh, Sidhi and Shahdol districts of Madhya Pradesh.[12]


In Rajasthan, Kumhars (Also known as Prajapat) have six sub-groups namely Mathera, Kumavat, Kheteri, Marwara, Timria and Mawalia. In the social hierarchy of Rajasthan, they are placed in the middle of the higher castes and the Harijans. They follow endogamy with clan exogamy.[7]

Orissa and Bengal

In Bengal Kumhars are one among the ceremonially pure castes.The Jagannathia Kumhars of Orissa, who provide vessels for the rice distribution in Jagannath temple, have much higher rank in the society than the Kumhars of Central India.[citation needed]

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

The Kannuaja Kumhars are considered to be a Shudra caste in both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Although they sometimes use the term Pandit with their names, they do so as a suffix rather than prefixing it in the honorific style that is used by Brahmins. The Magahiya Kumhars are treated little inferior to the Kanaujias and the Turkaha (Gadhere) Kumhars rank with untouchables.[13]

The Prajapati are among 17 OBC communities that were proposed for Scheduled Caste status by the Samajwadi Party-controlled Government of Uttar Pradesh in 2016. However, this proposal, which relates to votebank politics, has been stayed by the courts; the prior attempt had been rejected by the Government of India.[14][15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Khan, I. A. (2004). "Kumbhar/Kumhar". In Bhanu, B. V. People of India: Maharashtra, Part 2. Popular Prakashan. pp. 1175–1176. ISBN 978-8-17991-101-3. 
  3. ^ Natrajan, Balmurli (2011). The Culturalization of Caste in India: Identity and Inequality in a Multicultural Age. Routledge. p. 2.1. ISBN 978-1-13664-756-7. 
  4. ^ Deptt of social justice and empowerment. "Scheduled Caste Welfare - List of Scheduled Castes". GOI. Min of social justice and empowerment. pp. social justice and empowerment. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  5. ^ The_Hindu Online edition of India's National Newspaper Thursday, Oct 06, 2005
  6. ^ Deptt of social justice and empowerment, Govt. of India. "Govt. of India (Scheduled Castes)" (PDF). GOI. Min of social justice and empowerment. pp. 763, 155, 157. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Mandal, S. K. (1998). "Kumhar/Kumbhar". In Singh, Kumar Suresh. People of India: Rajasthan. Popular Prakashan. pp. 565–566. ISBN 978-8-17154-769-2. 
  8. ^ a b Bhāratī, Ke. Āra (2001). Chamba Himalaya: Amazing Land, Unique Culture. Indus Publishing. p. 178. ISBN 978-8-17387-125-2. 
  9. ^ Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. p. 48. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Vidyarthi, Lalita Prasad (1976). Rise of Anthropology in India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 293. 
  11. ^ "The Kumhars of Gwalior". Archived from ग्वालियर के प्रजापती%5d the original Check |url= value (help) on 2010-03-23. 
  12. ^ "". Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. Retrieved 23 June 2016.  External link in |title= (help)
  13. ^ Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Setback for Akhilesh government as High Court stays their order to include 17 sub-castes in the SC category". Financial Express. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 2017-02-04. 
  15. ^ "UP govt to include 17 other backward castes in SC list". Hindustan Times. PTI. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-04.