Regions with significant populations
South Asia~55–60 million (c. 2009/10)
Hindi, Sindhi, Rajasthani, Haryanvi, Awadhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Nagpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Urdu,Nepali
Related ethnic groups

Kumhar or Kumbhar (honorifically Prajapati[1])is a caste or community in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 'Kumhar' have historically been associated with art of pottery.[2]


The Kumhars derive their name from the Sanskrit word Kumbhakar meaning earthen-pot maker.[3] 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.[2]

Mythological origin

Depiction of a Kumhar.

A section of Hindu Kumhars honorifically call themselves Prajapati after Vedic Prajapati, the Lord, who created the universe.[2]

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.[2]

There is an opinion that this is because of their traditional creative skills of pottery, they are regarded as Prajapati.[4]


Portrait of two unknown Kumhar potters from Lahore, ca.1859–69

The potters are classified into Hindu and Muslim cultural groups.[2] Among Hindus, inclusion of artisan castes, such as potters, in the Shudra varna is indisputable. They are further divided into two groups-clean caste and unclean caste.[5]

Among the Kumhars are groups such as the Gujrati Kumhar, Kurali ke Kumhar, Lad, Haral and Telangi. They all, bear these names after different cultural linguistic zones or caste groups but are termed as one caste cluster.[6]

Distribution in India


The number of Kumhars speaking Bengali language here is more than other Kumhars. The sub-castes of Kumhars found here are- Khuntakati Kumhars and Prajapati Kumhars. Khuntkati Kumhars are the original inhabitants of this place and their popular surnames are - Pal, Bhagat, Kumbhar, Bera, Pradhan and Chaudhary.[7]

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.[4]

Maharashtra (Marathe)

Kumhars are found in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Sholapur and Pune. Their language is Marathi. They use Devnagari script for communication.[8] There are Kumbhars who do not belong to Maratha clan lives in Maharashtra and have occupation of making idols and pots.[2][8]

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.[9][clarification needed] They are listed among Other Backward Classes in the state.[10]


In Rajasthan, Kumhars (also known as Prajapat) have six sub-groups namely Mathera, 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.[3] The National Commission for Backward Classes has kept both the Kumhar and Kumawat castes separately but together in the same row in the Central List of Other Backward Classes of the state of Rajasthan.[11]

Odisha and Bengal

In Bengal Kumhars are one among the ceremonially pure castes. In Odisha they are two types (Odia Kumbhar and Jhadua Kumbhar) who provide vessels for the rice distribution to Jagannath temple.[12] They are belongs to Other Backward Classes in the state of Odisha.[13]

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar

The Kannuaja Kumhars are considered to be a decent caste in both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Although they sometimes use the term Pandit as their Surname. The Magahiya Kumhars are treated little inferior to the Kanaujias and the Turkaha (Gadhere).[14] They belong to other backward classes.


Kumhars are listed among the Other Backward Classes of Gujarat, where they are listed with the following communities: Prajapati (Gujjar Prajapati, Varia Prajapati, Sorthia Prajapati), Sorathiya Prajapati.[15]

Kumhars in Nepal

The Central Bureau of Statistics of Nepal classifies the Kumhar as a subgroup within the broader social group of Madheshi Other Caste.[16] At the time of the 2011 Nepal census, 62,399 people (0.2% of the population of Nepal) were Kumhar. The frequency of Kumhars by province was as follows:

The frequency of Kumhars was higher than national average (0.2%) in the following districts:[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Gwalior ke Kumhar - Jati ki Utpati Sambandhi Kivdanti". ignca.gov.in. Retrieved 20 August 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  3. ^ a b Mandal, S. K. (1998). "Kumhar/Kumbhar". In Singh, Kumar Suresh (ed.). People of India: Rajasthan. Popular Prakashan. pp. 565–566. ISBN 978-8-17154-769-2.
  4. ^ a b Bhāratī, Ke. Āra (2001). Chamba Himalaya: Amazing Land, Unique Culture. Indus Publishing. p. 178. ISBN 978-8-17387-125-2.
  5. ^ Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. p. 48. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  6. ^ Vidyarthi, Lalita Prasad (1976). Rise of Anthropology in India. Concept Publishing Company. p. 293.
  7. ^ Bhartiya, Ranjeet (2 October 2021). "अलग-अलग राज्यों में कुम्हार जाति उपजातियां और समुदाय के बारे में विवरण". Jankari Today. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  8. ^ a b Khan, I. A. (2004). "Kumbhar/Kumhar". In Bhanu, B. V. (ed.). People of India: Maharashtra, Part 2. Popular Prakashan. pp. 1175–1176. ISBN 978-8-17991-101-3.
  9. ^ "The Kumhars of Gwalior". Archived from the original on 23 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Central List of OBCs: State : Madhya Pradesh". National Commission for Backwards Classes. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  12. ^ "www.ijirssc.in" (PDF).
  13. ^ "www.bcmbcmw.tn.gov.in" (PDF).
  14. ^ Saraswati, Baidyanath (1979). Pottery-Making Cultures And Indian Civilization. Abhinav Publications. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-81-7017-091-4. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  15. ^ "CENTRAL LIST OF OBCs FOR THE STATE OF GUJARAT" (PDF). Government of India.
  16. ^ Population Monograph of Nepal, Volume II [1]
  17. ^ 2011 Nepal Census, District Level Detail Report