Origin The tradition of Black Pottery is believed to have originated from two Longpi villages in Manipur, namely Longpi Khullen and Longpi Kajui. Tangkhul community resides in the hill district of Manipur and practised this craft.
The origin of this soulful craft is attributed to Goddess Panthobi. Legend has it Goddess Panthobi is the mother of artifact-making. Thus, Longpi Pottery holds significance in rituals during childbirth and marriage. Initially, only the royalty and the rich of Manipur had access to this pottery.
Present Day: The tradition of black pottery is very much alive in soul of Longpi. Even today, each family in Longpi masters the art of making this beautiful pottery. Whilst all the houses of this village are buzzing with the making of black pottery, not all sell it. Some indulge in this craft only to satisfy their soul.
A couple of years back around 17 women of this village joined hands to form “Loree Hamlei”. These talented women have sold black pottery through craft stores across India and even abroad. Since there is no chemical used, pregnant women across globe are using it to avoid morning sickness.
Another initiative to bring this craft on the world map, was adopted by Mathew Sasa, a resident of Longpi Khullen. He started an outlet named Mathew Sasa Craft at New Delhi in 2007. He gained immense popularity.
Today, in addition to the characteristic cooking pots, stout kettles, quaint bowls, mugs and nut trays etc. new design elements are also being introduced such as table lamps, candlestick holders etc.
Procedure: A concoction of Black serpentite stone and weathered rock (found only in Longpi village) forms the main ingredient used in making Longpi. Black serpentite stone and weathered rock are mixed in the ratio of 3:1. Serpentite is known to provide strength; weathered rock works as a binding agent.
This paste is then rolled into desired shapes. After thoroughly kneading the paste, a large slab is rolled out and shaped into a cylinder. Then, on a large circular board that is placed on a stool the cylinder is positioned. The artist then moves around the clay shaping and forming the pot. A rounded stone is used to support the pot from inside. It is beaten to the desired shape and thickness. The artist needs to pay immense attention to co-ordinating the internal pressure and external movement.
Later, reddish brown seed of a wild creeper is rubbed around the pots surface. This is followed by rubbing the surface again with bees wax. This structure is then put in a kiln and set on fire for approximately nine hours till it reaches 900 C. A. Lastly, local leaves titled Pasania Pachiphylla are used to polish this pottery.
This entire process of manually shaping, polishing, sun-drying, heating it in on bonfire and then again polishing it takes total of six days to be completed.
All the raw materials used are natural and no chemicals are used in the crafting process. Thus, ensuring that food prepared in them does not have any adverse health effects.
Bring Home Black Pottery: Bring home black pottery from artistic fairs and switch to eating food in chemical free utensils.