Among the many essential materials in our daily lives are ceramics, which are classified as inorganic and nonmetallic. Clay, bricks, tiles, glass, and cement are some of the best-known examples of ceramics.
The art and craft of pottery can be seen throughout the country, be it flower pots, terracotta chimes, or the thirst-quenching ‘Surahi’ and ‘Matki’, and is considered one of the best living craft traditions in India. People in many parts of India use traditional potters’ wheels and kilns as well as subsistence agriculture to make earthenware, which has become an integral part of haats, bazaars, and urban market spaces.
During Ganeshotsav, Durga Puja, Diwali, and Ekadashi, terracotta oil lamps, idols, temples, and toys adorn the markets. Terracotta kitchenware, utensils, and pottery stalls are a staple in many festivals.
Let’s take a look at several popular pottery styles in India.
This glazed pottery form uses a blue glaze and is known for its intricate designs in blue and white. Popular in crockery, décor, artefacts, and utility items, it can be found in almost every pottery enthusiast’s home. Quartz is abundant in this region, which forms the main ingredient for blue pottery.
2. Khavda Pottery, Gujarat
It originates from the village of Khavda, Rann of Kutch, and is a traditional art form that uses ‘Rann ki Mitti’. The earthy ochre and gerua shades give this art form a unique feel with painted designs in symmetrical black and white. The special mud used to make it is procured close to a lake. Delhi markets are home to many potters who sell colourful terracotta products made from the Rann of Kutch.
Using bamboo twigs, the women apply clay-based paints (red, white, and black) to the wares. The designs are often inspired by nature. They create a variety of vessels like matkas for storing water, plates, diyas, boxes, ketlis, and kulhadas for storing buttermilk.
3. Khurja Pottery, Uttar Pradesh
Khurja in Bulandshahr is known as the ‘ceramic city’ because the colourful pottery it produces is a famous tourist attraction in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. The Khurja pottery has the GI status, and it has tea-sets, crockery, and ceramic tile works, among others. Among the most popular types of glazed pottery, the process entails a range of labor-intensive steps, including clay churning, moulding, colouring, and finally glazing.
4. Longpi Pottery, Manipur
Originally from Longpi villages in the Ukhrul district of Manipur, Longpi pottery has become an international sensation due to its sturdy nature. Longpi pottery is made from black serpentine stone and clay that is unique to this region, as well as bamboo/cane woven around the handles. Longpi pottery can also be used for baking and for microwaving. This type of craft is crafted without a potter’s wheel and uses black rock and clay as the main ingredients. Moulds are used to shape all the products by hand
5. Nizamabad’s Black Clay Pottery
Pottery made from black clay in Nizamabad likely originated in Kutch. Clay pottery of this type is known for its shiny dark body engraved with silver patterns. Many types of household and decorative items are made in the region, including vases, plates, pots, bowls, urns, incense sticks, and statues. Water pots with long necks, such as Surahi, are also popular.
The surfaces of the pots are decorated with floral and geometric patterns using sharp twigs. They are then smoke-fired with rice husks in enclosed kilns, giving them that glossy black appearance.
6. Andretta Pottery, Himachal Pradesh
It was created in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, a small village nestled amidst nature, where Andretta pottery is popularized. It is glazed with blue and green shades. A variety of natural colours, evergreen woods, and mountains are used in the art. The society also holds workshops regularly.
7. Rajasthan’s Molela Murtikala
Located in the Rajsamand district, Molela seems like an insignificant village to many. An artisan community in the village has developed a style of art called Molela murtikala, where votive terracotta idols are made to be placed on flat surfaces.
In recent years, the craft has evolved to create terracotta tiles containing scenes of everyday life. They are used in public places, homes and galleries.
Black pottery known as bidriware is made almost exclusively in Bidar, the ancient capital of the Deccan. It is created through a process called ‘damascening’, where pure silver designs are engraved into items made from zinc, copper, earth, and non-ferrous metals. Once the pieces have been dipped in the concoction, which is made from soil from the Bidar Fort, the oxidation transforms the metal into a black shade. With creepers and flowers, geometrical designs and human figures, these silver designs stand out.
9. West Bengal’s Terracotta Pottery
Bengal’s traditional community of potters, Kumbhakars, creates everything from terracotta pots to toys to temple panels. Many of the terracotta wares are considered complete after they have been washed with burnt red, but you will find some paintings at crafts melas and exhibitions. The figures and dolls are made mostly by women. They paint bright motifs and make the figurines.
- 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/explore/story/70059/5-rare-indian-pottery-traditions-you-should-know-about> [Accessed 11 December 2021].
- The Indian Express. 2021. Hues of pottery, a timeless craft tradition of India. [online] Available at: <https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/pottery-types-timeless-craft-tradition-eco-friendly-khurja-khavda-longpi-6090985/> [Accessed 11 December 2021].
- En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Ceramic – Wikipedia. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic#Products> [Accessed 11 December 2021].