Avto Shicharulidze learned how to make ketsi – traditional Georgian pans made of stone or clay – from his father as a small child.
He is now 70 years old and is said to be the only person in Georgia who is still able to make these traditional pans. Mr Shicharulidze is now afraid that the ancient craft will die with him.
”I was 10 years old when my mother died and I started helping my father. We lived not far from here. Eventually – step by step – I learned to master the craft, “says Avto. “It takes some skill and it’s hard work at the same time. I can make about 150 of them each year. They serve for preparing khachapuri, for instance. Ketsi gives our traditional dish a unique natural taste,” adds the craftsman.
Avto Shicharulidze lives in the village of Shum Amagleba. “Old craftsmen used to carve ketsi together. They worked on Fridays and Sundays. Those were the only days off. Otherwise, they had to work for an agricultural cooperative,” recalls the Georgian. “Men competed with each other to make more pans. And then they all had dinner together and drank wine. They drank from traditional wooden cups. They still returned to their work later in the evening.
The skilled craftsman is now afraid that after his death the whole technique will fall into oblivion. He is trying to find his follower for that matter. “I’ve asked lots of people – many times. Join me and I’ll teach you, I told them. But I haven’t found anyone yet. I still hope to find someone who would like to learn the craft. But now everyone has a job elsewhere. Young people are leaving and the old ones are dying. But if anyone could come here, at least this traditional craft could survive.”