Pottery in Different states of India
Every village of almost every state of India has a potter (Khumbar or Kumhar) who 'wheels' out an amazing variety of household utensils and other objects of utility. They sit outside their huts, spinning their wheels, creating bowls, mugs, plates, urns, for storing and carrying water, flowerpots, foot-scrubbers, small pots and a myriad other articles required by an Indian household. With the spread of urbanization, the potter settlements have now mushroomed on the outskirts of big cities and towns
Pottery Across the States
Moving straight onto Kashmir , one can find earthenware of ordinary clay, but with a glaze-like surface, which has gained popularity.
Kangra in Himachal Pradesh is rich in its clayware.
Delhi is famous for its characteristic 'Blue' pottery. It has a very old tradition, which is very distinctive. This particular art form has been named as blue pottery because the eye-catching Persian blue dye is used to color the clay. Blue pottery is glazed and high-fired which makes it tougher than most of the others.
Mansa pottery of West Bengal represents the snake goddess and is a quaint, double curved pot with a face painted on it. Similarly, the Dakshinirai pots, found in the Sunderbans area, are round pots with an edging running along the mouth signifying a crown and worshipped as the god who protects people against tigers. Such articles are of interest to the tourist and though not readily available outside Bengal, one finds stray pieces at the emporia in the major cities of India.
Uttar Pradesh produces some of the finest and most decorative Chunar, symbolized by its fine black clay pottery. This is inlaid with silver paint in intricate designs. The art perfected in Nizamabad, is highly glossy and has luster. Luster is derived from a powder called kabiz made from the mud of rice fields. Its formula is a closely guarded secret.
Khurja , in Uttar Pradesh, a three hours drive from Delhi, is also well known for its cheap but tough tableware. A specialty of Khurja is a type of pitcher like a pilgrim's bottle. Meerut, Hapur, Chinhat and Mansalia are important centers of this state where ordinary domestic articles and glazed items, mostly tableware are made. Produced on a mass scale, fired at high temperatures, these pottery items retain their mud colour and are in popular demand.
Rajasthan pottery has certain distinct characteristics. The mouths of water pots are small, probably to prevent spilling when water is being carried, a natural precaution in a place where water is so precious. Alwar is noted for its paper-thin pottery, known as kagzi (paper) pottery. Molela in Rajasthan is a village, which specializes in producing reliefs of gods and goddesses, mainly Ganesh, the elephant god. These reliefs are painted in vibrant reds, yellows and pinks and the figure is fired.
Jaipur pottery , made out of Egyptian paste, is thrown on the wheel and fired in wood-kilns, usually at very low temperatures. This naturally makes it fragile though few can resist the charm of the delicate white and blue floral motif, which is painted onto the body after firing. The range of items is primarily decorative such as ashtrays, vases, coasters, small bowls and boxes for trinkets. In the Pokhran pottery, pieces in different shapes are made for varied uses. The important thing here is that the shape is dictated by the function. The best known is the water bottle used during long journeys.
In Gujarat , a mixture of white and black clay is used in pottery making. After they are sun-dried, the clay articles are painted. Only earth pigments, ground and mixed with water are used. The object is first coated with a uniform base color and the patterns are then painted in various colors. A vast repertoire of motifs is spontaneously rendered by craftswomen. Designs are made of dots, zigzag stripes and diagonals. Floral and animal patterns are only occasionally used. Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat are noted for their beautiful earthenware.Goa's earthenware has a charm of its own. A wide range of figures and panels, apart from attractive water and flowerpots, are made.The south has several centers of noted glazed pottery. Vellore has black and red wares. Usilampatti in Madurai district has black pottery. Karigari pottery in South Arcot . of Tamil Nadu is most famous. Intricate items are made in parts and then joined. Highly artistic shapes are skillfully created. The chillum (clay pipe) is made into a noteworthy item both through its elegant shape and deep blue or green glaze. Khanapur in Belgaum district of Karnataka is known for its large sized containers and jars for storage and preservation.
Going further south, the region famous for its pottery is Pondicherry . Most of the products here are molded out of china clay and mature at very high temperatures.
These broad regional variations naturally cannot cover the whole range of ceramics in India. Every village potter inculcates into his art the regional characteristics and variations. Tribal art forms are varied and substantial but not easily accessible. A good representation of these various art forms can be found in the emporia in almost all the major cities of India.
There is also a category that is distinctive of a particular individual or a family. These are potters who work either in their own personal studios or at schools producing both traditional and modern earthenware, both utilitarian and purely dysfunctional!
One of the outlets of studio pottery is 'Valeries' in West Bengal . Now functioning on a commercial basis, it produces semi-handmade earthenware and glazed tableware in various mud tones.
Another worth mentioning place to get unique style of pottery is Kottaikorai in Pondicherry. Here individual touch can be seen in the slat-glazed pottery, which has the texture of orange peel and in technical jargon, is referred to as the Orange-Skin texture. Most of the painting is done before firing and most of the items are utilitarian-starting with candle-stands to water filters and tableware.
In pottery, there is a connection with the earliest traditions of civilization and culture and pottery forms (from whichever region they may be) symbolize in a way some of the most fundamental human activities. Any piece, no matter how crude, has succeeded in fitting profound human needs-both practical and spiritual. For this reason alone, the tradition of invoking Bhoomata (the goddess of earth) will continue and the Prajapatis' (potters as they are called) inherent creativity will be of vital importance in preserving and recording these needs.