The Artists and their styles
Terracotta in India is all handmade. The uncanny understanding of materials combined with mastery of tools, techniques and processes that has evolved over the centuries. Since India is a land of immense variety, vast bio-diversity and climatic zones, the clay of various regions is very different in form, texture and finesse. As such different clay reacts and performs in their own unique ways. Understanding clay becomes the most crucial aspect of pot making.
The potter specialize in making pots which are made from a combination of thrown and moulded parts. Entire families participate in the pot making process beginning with preparation of clay by the woman and children. The clay comes from nearby fields and village ponds.
After the clay is prepared it is thrown on the wheel and shaped. The object is given its final shape through tipai- the process of evenly beating its outer walls, with a wooden paddle and then ornamentation is done with lines, dots and motifs with terracotta, metal and plastic tools. The pot is then dried in shade and fired for over 48 hours in an open kiln.
The pots are made both by Hindu and Muslim potters. The Hindu potter is called kumhars and belongs to a community called ‘prajapati’. The Muslim potters are called ‘kashers’. The pots are mostly made with shapes of animals with vivid expressions which almost bring them to life. The work is judged for its finish, smoothness, quality of carving and uniformity of thickness.