Clay Craft is one of man’s oldest creations and its creation marks a significant step in our evolution. It is as if our ancestors were seeking to express themselves and took the earth literally into their own hands, to create shapes and forms that were both decorative as well as utilitarian.
The Art of working with terracotta – is amongst the oldest and most widespread form of craft in the world. India has a rich tradition of terracotta pottery – which has its roots in pre-historic times – dating back to even before the Indus Valley Civilisation.
The very word ‘terracotta’ means – “baked earth.” In practice, it implies clay-based unglazed ceramic material from which skilled potters create objects in its natural, brownish-orange colour.
The raw material for this craft is ordinary clay, derived from the beds of water bodies like river, lakes and ponds. The process of making objects with terracotta is simple yet labour- intensive. Once the clay – dough is made – shapes are formed with the help of a potters’ wheel or by hand by the potter. Then the material is allowed to dry and harden in the sun. The objects are then baked in an earthen oven or fired in a kiln. The baked material takes on saffron-orange hue. Finished terracotta items are sometimes polished or glazed for a lustrous look, or painted in vivid colours to add to their appeal.
Almost each part of India has its own unique style of pottery – in terms of colours, styles, designs, finish. For instance – Kangra is noted for black pottery, which resembles the Harappan style.
Then Pokhran in Rajasthan – has stylised forms of pottery with incised decorative patterns. In Kanpur you can spot ‘thin’ pottery with incised designs. Potters in Meerut and Jhajjar make slim necked water containers called ‘surahis’. These are created by being half -turned and half – moulded and have a variety of patterns and designs made on them. Kutch is famous for occasion-specific pots, horse and elephant figures. And Nizamabad in Uttar Pradesh is noted for black pottery with silver patterns worked into it.
Our partner artists at the WorldArtCommunity have created a fabulous collection of products crafted from terracotta – that includes pretty fashion jewellery, elegant wall art & murals, stylish serving-ware, creative sculptures, charming planters, and all sorts of giftables plus home & lifestyle accents. Check out the terracotta collection here