In India, the history of clay crafts has existed for more than a thousand years. The clay pottery artefacts from the Indus Valley Civilization are proof that there were highly skilled potters practising in ancient India. Pottery is one of the most tangible and recognisable elements of Indian art. It is a form of cultural art that is being actively practised in India today and is essential for understanding society and reconstructing the past. It can be used by prehistorians to date the excavation sites and identify several different cultures. Sit tight and dive into the world of history of these clay artforms with Rooftop !

Black Clay Pottery (Uttarpradesh)

black clay pottery
Image credits: Wikipedia

The black clay pottery of Nizamabad most likely came from Kutch’s aesthetic legacy when potters moved to Uttar Pradesh during the rule of Aurangzeb. The pottery made in Nizamabad is natural and has a delicate feel because it is made from locally mined clay. Before being completely rubbed in mustard oil, the pieces are cleansed with vegetable matter. Most of the pieces are cutlery, religious statues, and ornaments. After being engraved with design grooves using sharp twigs, the pottery is smoke burnt with rice husks in small kilns. This soot is what causes the lustrous black. The grooves are filled with a silvery powder made of zinc, mercury, or other metal amalgams.

Khavda Pottery (Gujrat)

Image credits: My Visiting Hours (l); Orpai Studio (r)

Remarkably, the Khavda pottery style fits the ancient pottery from Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, which dates back to 5,000 years. Men carve “rann ki mitti” into ornaments and utensils. A tiny wash of the native soil, geru, is applied to the pottery after firing to give it a soft, warm colour. The pieces are then painted by women using bamboo sticks and clay-based paint in the colours red, white, and black. The designs frequently draw inspiration from the splendour of nature. Abdul Ibrahim, his wife Rahima, and his mother are the sole artists who are still actively working to preserve culture and tourism.

Our experience with air-dry clay 

Terracotta Pottery (West Bengal)

Image credits: Freepik (l); Octagoarts (r)

The kumbhakars are Bengal’s oldest group of potters. They produce anything from terracotta pots to toys, sculptures, wind chimes, and temple panels. While many pieces of terracotta are deemed finished once a burnt red wash has been applied. Yet you may still find some carefully painted items at craft fairs and exhibitions. They feature scenes from epics, the natural world, and folklore. Since the kumbhakars often employ a clear division of labour, the majority of the finishing touches are done by women. Men operate the wheel and manufacture whatever is possible on it, while women create the rounded bottoms of pots, smaller figures and dolls, and paint bright themes.

Check out our clay character moulding workshop 

Molela Murtikala (Rajasthan)

Image credits: Udaipur Blog (l); Pinterest (r)

The local artistic community has come to appreciate the Molela Murtikala art form, which creates votive clay idols for use on flat surfaces like tiles and plaques. At the start of the year, tribes traditionally purchase the exquisitely decorated clay plaques from these potters. When a priest is present, the act of purchasing is deemed sacred. The main focus is often plaques bearing the pictures of the gods Devnarayan and Nagaraja, each of whom is associated with a specific colour. The votives, which are replaced yearly, are meant to guard the tribe’s members against bad fortune. In Rajasthan, Molela murtikala is particularly popular during the harvest and festival seasons. Along with the religious component, they also create these with stunning scenery.

Here at Rooftop, we believe in assisting you in discovering your creative side by offering you a variety of art workshops that enable you to pick up new techniques and broaden your horizons. Check out these workshops then sign up via the website

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