Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Terracotta Art

Staying in Delhi and my upteen number of visits to the Potters Village,Saket,Delhi pushed me to write this post.All must be wondering about how the" terracotta work" is called an "art".Yes and to be very factual it is a form of Art.

The word "Terracotta" is etymologically Italian, and means ‘baked earth’ or ‘fired earth’. A clay-based unglazed ceramic art, terracotta art is an antique practice and bears testimony of man’s civilization through various ages.

*It would be wrong to say that it is entirely an Indian art phenomenon. 

*In fact, the art revolutionized the concept of European creativity and was elevated to an indomitable status by Italian craftsman, during the 15th century. 

*Some other countries that made use of terracotta were China, England, France, America and West Africa.

 *The Terracotta Army of China (the terra cotta soldiers), The Abduction of Hippodameia (Scene from a Greek mythology, where Hippodameia is abducted by a centaur), and The Town Buildings of Victoria, Birmingham are notable examples of the use of the art around the world.

From times immemorial; this art has been a pulsating life-force for the people of India. The excavations of the Harrappa and Mohenjodaro civilizations validate the fact.Can be traced back to the Indus valley civilization 3500BC From daily bric-a-bracs to revered idols; Indians mastered this art to cater to their every necessity. In fact, terracotta art was considered as mystical in India, as it incorporates the five vital elements - Air, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. 

Refined clay is first dried partially (not completely). Following this, it is cast, molded, or hand worked in such a way that it gets the desired shape. Thereafter, it is allowed to dry some more and then fired, by placing in a kiln or on top of a combustible material in a pit. Finally, it is allowed to cool, either by covering it with sand (in case of pit firing) or cooling down the kiln (in case of kiln firing). 

The art of terracotta varies from region to region in India and different states in India is specialised in its own unique style of terracotta sculptures and even clay colour of different region varies from region to region.

*West Bengal is famed for the terracotta objects produced in the Bankura District. The Bankura horse is very famous. For centuries the craftsmen of this district have been making figurines having ritualistic connotations.

 *Tamil Nadu is famous for the huge terracotta figures of the Aiyanar Deity. They are found standing guard at the entrances of villages protecting the insiders from evil spirits.

*Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have a charming tradition of decorative roof top tiles, made partly by hand moulding and partly on the wheel. These tiles, shaped like half tubes, have perched on top of them figures of elephants, monkeys, bears, reptiles, gods and goddesses and are considered a status symbol among the rural people.

*Terracotta panels and storage jars painted white and decorated with tiny mirrors are common in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

*Horses of Darbhanga in Bihar which are painted in bright rainbow colors once they are made.

*The terracotta pottery of Madhya Pradesh is simply remarkable, especially that practiced by the tribals of Bastar.

The terracotta art works definitely multiplies the look of the contemporary and traditional home decor. 

My  visits to potters village defnitely helped me in capturing the essence of the potters village,saket.All these images shown were taken during the days of GAnesh chaturthi and so most of these are the figurines of different types of elephant god,the obstacle remover the great God Ganesha .Will definitely feature the other items available in potters village in a different post.

Text courtesy:lifestyle.iloveindia.com,indiasite.com,indianetzone.com,india9.com


  1. I'm always amazed at their skill. Are you going to the Surajkund Mela? I was really hoping to be back in time for it....maybe next year!

  2. Dear Lakshmi,

    Thank you for your nice comment on my blog!
    Your blog is amazing and inspiring. I will add you to my bloglist. Thank you and have a nice day.
    Peace and Magic

  3. Your blog is amazing. I have added you to my blog list.
    I have stared a new blog on arts and crafts, and i love painting on terracotta pots as well.. CLick here to view my blog and request you to follow my blog as well. - http://craftmelange.blogspot.in/2013/02/acrylic-pot-painting.html

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