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Indian Crafts >> Pottery
Pottery
Indian Crafts - Pottery
History of Pottery

Pottery has a wide universality and its tradition goes back to span of five millennium. This craft came via Persia, when Mongal Chengiz Khan had conquered China in AD 1212. The remains of the terracotta objects from the early historical sites of Mathura, Rajgaht, Kanauj, Kaushambi and Ayodhya reveal the existence of terracotta art in ancient past.Meerut is famous for its turned and moulded water containers with striking designs of flowing lines and floral patterns. Gorakhpur has continued the age old Tradition by making decorative and ritual terracotta objects. Amroha pottery used to be thin and brittle white in colour and ornamented with colours and with gold and silver leaf.In Mathura-Vrindavan, the art of working in terracotta is of greater antiquity. These terracotta are not only documents of religious sculpture but are important as documents of early history of art, expression of the artisitic urge of man.

The art and technique of blue pottery were brought to Jaipur, Rajasthan, by the Rajput king Man Singh. It later flourished under the patronage of his great grandson Maharaja Sawai Jai Sing II.While blue pottery itself originally came to India from Persia and Afghanistan.

Potters wheel was the first machine which man invented for a productive purpose. According to a legend, pottery came into existence during the churning of the ocean, when the God needed a vessel to keep the nectar. Thus Vishvakarma, the celestial artificer, had moulded a pot. This tradition goes back over a span of five millennia.

Pottery can be traced back when man settled down after roaming on the surface of the earth. At first he made crude vessels of clay by hand and baked them in the sun or fire. Later, men invented the potters wheel and with more knowledge he derived kiln. The pottery making can be traced back to the Indus valley civilization.

Around 5000 years ago, one of the earliest skills developed by man was the handling of clay. He kneaded the soft alluvial clay with his hands and coiled it into containers for his use. He also moulded lumps of clay with his hand to create toys for children amusement. Later he discovered the use of wheel. The movement of the wheel and pressure of his hands helped him to create forms.
Fine Art
In Gorakhpur, village dieties like Vaisno Devi, Baurat Devi, Deech Baba, Same Mai, Vyas Devi are made for worship on different religious occasions. Same Mai is used as a votive

Rajasthani pottery has certain distinct characteristics. The mouth of water pots are small to prevent spilling when water is being carried. Their shoulders are painted in black and white pattern.

The vessels are jet black in colour with silvery floral pattern which gives an impression of bidri ware. Hand painted glazed tiles are another items of artistic pottery.

Pottery and terracotta are original and traditional crafts of Goa. Both utility-cum-decorative items are produced by the potters. Local tradition is always reflected in these items.

Haryana has its own distinctive style in pottery. Jhajjar in Haryana make slim-necked water containers known as surahis, which are half turned and half moulded. It has a variety of patterns of rosettes and flowing designs, with gargoyle type heads for spouts.
Procedure
The clay is mixed with ash and sand is kneaded by feet, collected and cut with lahasur. It is then kneaded with hand, on peeda and a lump is made. All the thick particles are removed. The ready clay is kept on wheel to make various forms. A potters wheel has short spokes, turns on a pivot of hard wood or metal and is provided with a large hub which acts as a revolving table, A vertical stick is inserted in the hole in the rim. The potter throws the kneaded clay into the centre of the wheel, and spins the wheel around with a stick. Due to the centrifugal force, the lump of clay is pulled outwards and upwards and shaped into a vessel. This is pulled out with a string, dried and fired in a potters kiln. Clay article after firing turns to terracotta.Gorakhpur pottery and forms have a bright red colour, which emerges with the application of Kabiz; a special kind of soil mixture of piari mitti (yellow earth) and sajji mitti (crude carbonate of soda). Kabiz available in a village near Gorakhpur is ground, dissolved and soaked in water for 24 hours. The clay articles are dipped in this kabiz solution, prior to firing. In the firing process, the yellow colours converts to bright red, on the clay surface. In Rampur district, an object is made on a potters wheel using a mixture of feldspar, edible gum, starch and clay. This is then painted with mineral colours, cobalt oxide for blue and copper oxide for green, in order of their hardness. The object is then fired to reveal the rich turquoise blue and pale green. Designs are either floral or geometric. In Amroha, design is traced on the vessel, with wax and the metallic leaf is pressed over it to make it adhere to the traced lines.

The Jaipur blue pottery is unique as quartz is used as a base material instead of clay. The objects are made from a mould using a mixture of feldspar, multani - mitti, edible gum and glass. The smoothened milky - white surface of the moulded object is then painted with mineral colours, cobalt oxide for blue and copper oxide for green for their hardness. The surface is subsequently glazed and fired to reveal the rich turquoise blue and pale green of the geometrical and floral designs.

The wheel is the common kind, thick with short spokes, turning on a pivot of hard wood or metal, provided with large hub acting as a revolving table. The impulsion is given by hand with a vertical stick inserted in a hole in the rim. The potter throws the kneaded clay into center of wheel, then spins the wheel around with a stick. As the whirling gathers momentum, he begins to shape the clay into the form he wants. When finished he severs the shaped bit from rest of the clay skillfully, with a string. The firing in the countryside is mostly done in the open in improvised kilns within a simple hollowed circular area, with the articles just piled up and covered by cow dung cakes, the cheapest available fuel.

The clay is first powdered and soaked in water in a tank. Once this is fully soaked, the same is shifted to another tank. There it is kept for some time till the clay settle down in the water and the water at the top are siphoned off. This is then allowed to dry a little. It is then mixed with sand or brick or stone powder and kneaded thoroughly. This eliminates all air bubbles. The material thus prepared is allowed to mature for a day or two and is then ready for use. The different techniques involved in preparing and shaping the various articles are pinching, slab pottery, coil pottery, wheel pottery and mould pottery.

The wheel is the common kind, thick with short spokes, turning on a pivot of hard wood or metal, provided with a large hub, acting as a revolving table. The impulsion is given by hand with a vertical stick inserted in a hole in the rim. The potter throws the painstakingly kneaded clay into the centre of the wheel, rounding at off, then spins the wheel around with a stick. As the whirling gathers momentum, he begins to shape the clay into the form he wants. When finished, he severs the shaped bit from the rest of the clay skillfully with a string. The firing in the country side is mostly done in the open in improvised kilns with in a simple hollowed circular area, with the articles just plied up and covered by cowdung cakes, the cheapest available fuel. The quality or beauty of the products is not affected however. Wood being costly some established potters may use wooden pieces or shavings.
Resources
Basic Material : Piari mitti (yellow earth), sajji mitti (crude carbonate of soda clay), pakhari mitti (pond clay), mustard oil, red clay, edible gum, starch, feldspar, clay, wax. pakhari mitti (pond clay), ash, sand, cowdung,
Decorative Material : gold and silver leaf.
Colouring Material : red ochre solution, Blue colour (cobalt oxide), green colour copper oxide).

Basic Material : Multani Mitti or clay, gum, quartz, glass, cobal oxide, copper oxide.
Colouring Material : mineral colours.

Basic Material : Clay, vegetable oil, mixture of tin, zinc and mercury, potters wheel, string for cutting

Basic Material : Clay, sand, brick or quarry stone powder, fire wood

Basic Material : Clay, chak (potteris wheel)
Equipments
Chak (potters wheel), chaket, chewan (thread for cutting)

feldspar





Artifacts
Surahi, plate, kalash(vessel for storing water), karahi, handi. containers for eatables, pots, trays, containers for storage of liquid; other items- toys, models of fruits and vegetables, animals & reptiles, plants & vegetation, gullak, hathi, flower vase, pots, figures of deities, animals

Jars, vases, containers of various size, painted tiles, bowls, soap dishes, door knobs.

jars, pots, dishes, cooking vessels, bowls, containers, beakers, jugs, vessels

garden pots, figures of saints, gods & goddesses, animals, ashtrays, penstands, paper weight

kulhar, grain storage, water jars, toys, lamps, wall panels etc.

Indian Crafts : History of Pottery