(Last Updated on : 09/05/2015)
Clay crafts of Orissa are predominantly practised by the tribal people of Orissa. The terracotta art has given the artisans of Orissa involved in clay craft, a fresh enthusiasm and to exude their craftsmanship.
Mainly in the rural parts of Orissa, the artisans create a wide range of clay items like pots, storage and cooking vessels, images of deities, lamps, figurines, bird and animal shapes, toys including tiles. Clay roof tiles are decorated with the figures of birds, squirrels, monkeys and mice on them. This tradition originated in the need to scare away wild animals and these animals perched on tiles act somewhat in the nature of scarecrows as believed by the local people. The clay crafts of Orissa are also known for the terracotta pottery which is done with refined clay. The clay items that are created by the terracotta process need the partially dried refined clay and then the cast is done. The mould then is given the desired shape and is placed in a furnace or atop combustible material in a pit for drying. This is followed by exposing the items to the natural temperature.
The tribal people who are engaged in the clay crafts of Orissa use special type of clay and design to suit the rustic appeal of the soil. Apart from creating roof tiles, the artisans create utensils that range from plates, khullars or the earthen tea cups, jars and many other kitchen items. The created items are further embellished with vibrant colours and are very minutely outlined and highlighted. Sometimes the articles are given a finishing touch with the natural terracotta colour. Animal figurines of bulls, elephants and horses are also found among the clay articles of Orissa. Villages like Kusumi, Dashmantpur, Laxmipur, Kumbharput in Orissa have been remaining the centres of clay craft of the state.
The clay crafts of Orissa have made a distinct position in the Indian clay craft. The government is planning to promote this form of craft by providing funds and other helps. The artisans are now moving to market their products in different regions of Orissa including the other parts of India.