Indian Heritage has witnessed different forms of Art in various Centuries Terracotta art is one of them, It is one of the Earliest and well-known Art forms in India It has a vast History even there are evidences of Terracotta art on Various Temples and Sculptures of Indus valley civilisation, This art form was quite popular among the people of Indus valley civilisation. In the dwellings of Indus valley civilisation a number of Art objects are found In the past, Many Art workers have brought various variations in this Art.
Mesopotamian civilisation was also rich in arts and crafts and beautiful terracotta figurines of goddesses and small statues from around 19th century BC have been found by the archaeologists. Bell Idols or female statuettes having mobile legs from 8th century BC Greece is a noteworthy example of Terracotta art in ancient world.
Terracotta bell idols were popular in Greece and Rome. Another terracotta wonder from the ancient world is the Terracotta Army of China from 210 BC, part of an ancient necropolis, and built by the emperor Qin Shi Huang. The King’s terracotta army consists of 6000 life-size terracotta soldiers guarding his tomb. Another big terracotta art form is from the past is The Terracota army of China from 210 BC It has been a part of ancient Necropolis The army is complete with soldiers, archers, horses, and chariots. What’s amazing about these soldiers is that each of them has been made having different facial features.
Hand Molding Versus Mass Production
The ancients used the pressure of their hands to painstakingly give shape to each terracotta item but with increase in the type of uses and demand, moulds were made to start mass production. One of the first examples of mass produced terracotta figurines is that of ancient Greeks’ Tanagra figurines from later 4th Century BC.
Various Forms Of Terracotta Art In India Terracotta art is an integral part of Indian culture and heritage. What’s more, the art form has not been lost as many others have; rather it is flourishing and getting richer even now with artisans uninhibited in their imagination and creativity. Though the art of creating glazed pottery has been in existence for thousands of years in India, the unglazed pottery items are the ones India is world renowned for
. Terracotta items are commonplace in Indian homes in one form or other, and artisans have kept the art alive from one generation to other. Today, India exports exquisite terracotta items like statues, vases, decorative hangings and bells, murals, Diwali oil lamps, etc. making the art form a rewarding one for the artisans.
Though it would be impossible to find an Indian village without potters and other artisans, some states and cities are well known for their distinct Terracotta ware. What makes the end result unique from region to region is the difference in clay type and colour as well as the sensibilities of the artist, not to mention the varied culture, religious practices, and traditions. Let’s take a look at some of them:West Bengal has a rich tradition of art and craft and terracotta is one of them.
In fact, rural areas of the state are a treasure trove of finely crafted terracotta pots, figurines including those of handsome horses and other items, small and large, practical as well as decorative. Some of the well known towns for Terracotta art form are Jessore, Birbhaum, Digha, and Hooghly. The art form came to this state in the 16th century with the influence of Vaishnavite movement which found expression in Terracotta sculpting on Krishna temples built by them. People of West Bengal also worship the snake goddess Manasa by creating a shrine constructed with tree branches, terracotta snakes and pots.
Terracotta artisans of West Bengal use a mix of two or more types of clay taken from river beds and pits and their patterns are usually traditional or community-related. The fuel used for firing is firewood, dry leaves, and twigs which are available locally. The moulded items are baked in traditional kilns at temperatures of 700°-800°C. Both men and women participate in the process with the women responsible for working the wheel and giving the upper part of the pots or the necks a round shape. Other items like dolls, figures, jewellery, wind chimes, and toys are cast in burnt clay moulds.
Terracotta art in Bihar goes back to the Mauryan period (2nd-3rd century BCE). Horses are a recurrent theme in Indian terracotta across states and Bihar is no exception. Darbhanga in Bihar is well known for its terracotta horses that are painted in bright rainbow colours on completion. Other items include clay elephants that are placed on roof tops to signify marriage in the house.
Terracotta artisans from Gujarat, especially from Gundiyali in Bhuj district, use the potter’s wheel to create exquisite hand-painted clay pots with geometrical patterns almost identical to the ones excavated from the sites of Indus Valley civilization. Other terracotta items popular in the state include the votive figures of animals like horses, cow, elephants, tigers, bulls, buffalos, and even insects which are placed in shrines by devotees. The state is also well-known for Dhabus, dome-shaped abodes for the spirits of the departed.
This central Indian state has a rich tradition of creating terracotta figures for rituals as well as for day to day uses. Life-like figurines of Hindu deities, human forms, birds, horses, snakes and huge elephants are some of the more popular ones created by the artists.
Tamil Nadu, the temple state of India and one steeped in thousands of years of history and rich cultural heritage is known for making large terracotta horses. In fact, villages of the state follow a tradition of having a huge terracotta horse figure guarding its entrance. This horse is a companion of Aiyyanar, the Tamil Village God. His colourful statues are also flanked by large white horses and elephants or the lord is depicted riding on them.
These statues are prepared by mixing sand and straw to clay to get a certain consistency and wood pieces covered in clay are used for legs. The rest of the ceramic pieces including the head and the accessories are separately created and joined on an auspicious day and fired in a straw and cow dung kiln covered with mud. Nowadays moulds have come to be used for creating these horses given their popularity.
Apart from Aiyyanar and his companions, shrines of other village gods and goddesses are also represented by terracotta statues. These include the Naga or Serpent shrine, Ganesha idols, etc. Apart from religious figurines, daily use items like water pots, cooking pots, grain storage containers, etc. are also made using Terracotta. As per legends, the potters of Tamilnadu, also known as kuyavar or velar, trace their origin to the heavenly master craftsman Vishwakarma.
This state has a tradition of clay and terracotta art dating back millennia to Pre Harappan and Harappan culture. People used the skill to create a wide range of items including toys, figurines, jewellery, toy cart frames, etc. Around 1000 B.C., painted grey ware (PGW) with black designs began to be made as is evident from excavations at the various sites around the state including Kurukshetra. These are usually associated with the Mahabharata period. Sugh in Haryana is another important Terracotta centre with figurines of mother goddess, animal and bird figurines and Yaksha statues having been found at many sites.
Today, the terracotta artists from the state create products such as two toned or colourfully painted vases, pots, lamps, toys, human and animal figurines, wall hangings, and musical instruments among others. Beautiful terracotta jewellery including neck and ear pieces is a specialty of the state.
Like Haryana, Rajasthan also has an age old tradition of terracotta art and the state is well known for its various distinctive terracotta articles. The arid state also has a special connection with clay and terracotta as people in villages carry water from distant sources to their homes in terracotta pots. Moreover, their daily worship is connected to terracotta idols of deities.
Alwar in Rajasthan is famous for making paper-thin light-weight pottery, also known as Kagzi while Pokharan is known for red and white terracotta articles with incised geometrical patterns. Terracotta horse figures, Ganesha idols, as well as idols of local deities like Nag Dev or the serpent god, Bhairav, and other heroes made in Molalla are popular in the state. Bikaner district is famous for colourful pottery items painted with lac colours. Terracotta toys and animal figurines are sold in village hat’s or markets as well as in fairs. The art of making these toys is a legacy from the ancient Kalibangan site of Indus Valley civilization in Rajasthan.
The clay used by artists comes from local ponds. Coarse clay is used for plaques and mixed with donkey dung collected by women folk in the proportion of 1:3 making the clay suitable for moulding.
This northern Indian hilly state has terracotta artists that have their origins in Rajasthan, Punjab and Kashmir. Most of the terracotta artists here are settled in towns of Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Kulu, and the state capital Shimla. Tracing their lineage to Lord Vishwakarma, these artists are well known for their red and black pottery which is etched with circular or linear patterns before firing and painted black and white.
Odisha Terracotta art in Odisha goes back to 4th century BC and the tribal artisans create unique designs using special clay which has many takers both within the country and abroad. Animal figurines of bulls, horses and elephants are exquisitely moulded and highlighted and left in their original clay colour. Others household items like jars, tea cups, plates, roof tiles, pots, toys, pots, candle stands, etc. are also made with the unique tribal touch. Jewellery like bangles and necklace sets are also popular items.
In Almost every Indian household it is common to see someone using some kind of product made from pottery, like earthen pots to grow plants, table ware, clay sculptures and terracotta bells which are meticulously worked on to make an ideal décor item for indoors as well as outdoors. These items are often in great demand during the festive season.
These artificts are often Great in Demand during the advent of Festivals. Not only in India but in other countries of the world too Terracotta tiles have a great history. If you observe an agraharam in Tamil Nadu or Kerala, you will notice that the roofing tiles are made from terracotta. The American architecture named Louis Sullivan is celebrated for his glazed in the terracotta adornment.