Origin: Terracotta handicrafts were discovered in excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo Daro and many other ancient cities of Indus Valley Civilization. Thus, this art form existed about 5000 years ago. In Gujarat’s small village called Gundiyali for generations, artisans have crafted earthen pots resembling those seen in Harappan excavations. Every region of Gujarat embraces a signature pottery style. Gujarat is popular for crafting clay and terracotta images of deities for ceremonial occasions. From medieval period, the exercise of using terracotta on day to day basis as utensils, toys, weapons, pots etc. exists.
Present Day: Although the potters of Kutch are widely acclaimed. Unfortunately, the age old Khavda pottery craft of Kutch is fading. Out of the ten families that embraced this craft with love and tradition, there are only two left. Remaining eight families have half-heartedly made a career shift to support their livelihoods. These generations of artisans are losing their battle against plastic, steel and Chinese products.
Potters in the Chhota Udaipur and Aravallis tribal land craft the auspicious lanky necked terracotta craft work of the tribal horse God, Gora Dev. Gigantic sculptures, statues for garden, toys, exclusive pottery and utensils are made out of terracotta. Terracotta animal figurines are hand sculpted and are used for religious means (for offerings) and toys are also made for the toddlers as they are non-toxic. The unique art of creating exclusive terracotta sculptures and collectibles in form of birds and animals adds a rustic touch to modern interiors.
Procedure: Terracotta is a clay that comes in unglazed and glazed ceramic form, where the fire body is porous. The common raw materials used are clay and clay slurry to keep everything together as a glue.
For generations, the process of pottery making clearly defines the task of men and women. Men dip their hands in throwing whilst women master the art of surface decoration. Mud is of utmost importance in the pottery making process and is got from a specific acre (a lake) area near their village. This soft clay is then given the shape of a pot and left to dry in the shade. Once it’s dried, village women use red, black, and white clay-based paints to decorate each piece of pottery. Once again it’s dried in sun. Post this it’s baked in a furnace.
Terracotta handicrafts are one of the handicrafts which is highly requested and acclaimed all across the world. Clay products have a great demand in the International Market and contribute significantly in the growth of economy and foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Bring Home Terracotta: You can find Terracotta handicrafts at local markets of Mandvi, Taluka, Bhuj, Kutch, Sabarkantha District- Poshina and Lambadia Village, Vadodara District- Chhota Udaipur, Surat district and few state emporiums.