In a country like India clay art thrives to be the main source of employment for a vast majority of the population, next to agriculture. Therefore Clay Art is another pillar of democratic India, the India that vowed to shine in the course of the barricades of adversities. Time has vindicated the pioneering efforts of contemporary clay sculptor. However the manufacturing of clay vessels in India whispers the essence of ancient age. The history of clay crafts in India dates back to 6,000BC through remains found at Mehrgarh, on the western bank of the Indus River. History of clay crafts in India says that around 3,000BC, wandering tribes settled on this fertile river land which became the Harappa civilisation and left behind indications of a highly developed culture including pottery making. Many of the forms, techniques and decorative designs from this period are still being used today. During the Vedic period (1,500BC - 600BC) pottery known as Painted Grey Ware was produced, whose characteristic grey colour was obtained through the practice of reduction firing. This was followed by the Northern Black Polished Ware of around 400BC, a highly lustrous pottery developed during the Mauryan period.
Types of Clay Crafts
In ancient India, potteries made of red ware and painted grey ware was in vogue especially during the later Vedic period. Dishes and bowls were made with these materials for meals. 'Jhuker pottery', is a famous clay art which was developed during the Harappan civilization and gained popularity during the Vedic and the later Vedic period. The northern black ware developed a little later, is made of a fine fabric and is glossy in appearance. Presently, there is a wide variety of clay crafts in India. The 'Surai' of Bengal, painted pottery of Bikaner, Himachal Pradesh's clayware, tiles of Chunar in Uttar Pradesh are some of the examples. Beautiful earthen pots, large storage articles, the 'karigiri pottery' made of China clay are the popular clay crafts of India. The blue pottery of Jaipur, is an unusual and beautiful work of art. Another interesting Indian pottery is the Pokran variety that includes abstract geometric shapes and wonderful artistry. Other clay crafts of the country include terracotta, black pottery, temple bricks, ornaments and lampshades.
Terracotta is a very popular clay craft of India. Ornaments made of terracotta are worn by a large majority of women in India. Terracotta objects are mostly built by moulding the clay with hand or with the wheel. For a smoother texture, the items are polished with stones or palettes made of wood. Terracotta is extensively used for making deity images in temples and other monuments. Some of the temples in West Bengal, Buddhist Viharas that belonged to the Pala period and some mosques of the care examples of terracotta architecture are the examples of the same.