Terracotta clay is one of the most reliable art materials in India. It is known for a long time. In India, terracotta became widespread for its beautiful artworks on sculptures and temples. Terracotta material was adopted by Indian emperors, since a well-known period. It is still famous for its traditional and unique form. The artisans formed terracotta since Indus Valley Civilisation, as it is still present on site. The red earthenware material was employed by craftsmen to build forts and temples for its unique artwork and traditional appearance.
In the early period, the potters shaped terracotta in various forms to make money, and the tradition still exists in India. The monuments and forts were also made of stones, marbles, and ceramic. Although, there were places where these materials were rarely available. So, the early craftsmen used terracotta for designing purposes. In Bengal, we can notice many tourist places designed with pure terracotta material. The potters took alluvial soil of the lower Bengal Basin to produce terracotta.
Slowly, the taste and style of peoples changed. The artisans practiced different processes and forms to style terracotta clay. There is a deep history behind the formation of terracotta clay. We still love the color of the terracotta pots, the diyas for festivals, the smell of food cooked in terracotta utensils, and many more. The materials give us a feel of our native land in this busy and rush city life.
Terracotta Clay India History
The baked earth is considered an attractive piece molded by hand. It’s reflected as a pure hand-made thing adopted by religiosity, exquisiteness, and convenience. It not only deemed antique statuettes for artistic purposes of traditional societies but also suggest their religious belief. The pure accent of terracotta made people accept that it can be adopted for ritual purposes.
Terracotta is recognized since the Maurya dynasty in the country. In 322–185 BCE, the emperors molded beautiful statues of the dancing lady and bowing yaksha that reflects the action to depicts a faithful manner. The sculptures, discovered in Pataliputra, which is now in Bihar, known as Patna. Now, the famous sculptures do exhibit at Patna Museum, which is a tourist spot. The Indian sculptures seem non-baked, which are kept for display in Patna. It depicts the nostalgic communication that exists between the Greeks and Maurya ruler.
The Maurya Empire did defeat in about 200 BCE. After that, the artisans shifted to Chandraketugarh. Soon the designing style of the artisans changed. They adopted a new working design from the new city. However, they managed to confer a flashback of the Maurya dynasty in a pattern of Terracotta figures. In the town of Chandraketugarh, a spot at Tamluk was located, deemed as a riverbank dock. The archaeologists discovered some famous terracotta materials at Bengal, Andhra, Sanchi, Rajasthan, and Bharhut.
In recent years, terracotta materials did denote as essentially materialistic, without ethical or fictitious connection. It is apparent through the primary aspect of the Buddhist period. The terracotta material was found in good condition. So, it appears that the vessels were adopted for essential celebrations only. Many forethoughts were perceived during maintenance. Chandraketugarh is a prominent archaeological spot associated with ancient terracotta art following the origin of Indian archaeology records in the 19th century.
Origin of Terracotta Clay
One of the best discoveries made of terracotta is the Terracotta Army sculpture. It is famous for its intense artwork and design. The place is a center of attraction for tourists and outlines the armies of Qin Shi Huang (the first king of China). The artwork is a structure of a large troupe of soldiers that depicts strength and power. In 1974, few peoples in China were digging a well when they found the sculpture.
The most impressive fact is that the statue was hidden for a long while but not damaged. It was the first discovery of terracotta sculpture. After that, archeologists began discovering more such terracotta statues. It is a structure of approx 8,000 militants, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 army horses. You can imagine the area covered inside the land. At that time, it was not simple for the peoples to dig such a large area.
The locals believe that the sculpture was secreted by the Chinese emperor, around 210 BCE. King Qin believed that these real-looking sculptures might protect his nation in eternity. He also wanted to rule over the terracotta army forever. It would be a big task for the artisans to make the entire sculpture. It was composed by professional craftsmen, which can be noticed from its impressive finishing. The statues believed to be designed from plants. The detailings including, eyes, hairs, nose, and formal clothes, made it look life-like.
The sculpture is said to be incomplete as there were more space and under-process statues. The king fixated on attaining immortality, but he died of taking a toxic mercury metal. He thought it would make him alive forever. Along with the army, the archeologists also discovered the different terracotta group in the Chinese king’s tomb. Some figurines included terracotta artists, clowns, muscular men inside the king’s tomb.
The sculpture was kept in a waterproof top made of wooden shelters and poles. Not only statues these were also worshipped by the local believers. The terracotta illustrations were formerly brightly painted in red-green, purple, and yellow. The Archaeologists now assume that early Greek artists were significant makers for the Terracotta Army.
Foundation of Terracotta Clay
Terracotta was primarily accepted in ancient art, as illustrated by the exceptional Venus of Dolni Vestonice (26,000-24,000 BCE), located in a coat of ash at a paleolithic camp in Moravia. Few well-known terracotta statues from the ancient time are Enthroned Goddess Figurine from Catalhoyuk, Anatolia, and The Thinker of Cernavoda from the lower Danube region in Romania.
The artists from the Bronze and Iron Age have designed some women sculptures in Mohenjo-Daro and Pakistan. The Burney Relief is also famous from Ancient Mesopotamia. The craftsmen from Egypt, Minoan, Mycenean, Greek, and Etruscan civilizations, from about the Mediterranean, made famous Tanagra Figurines from Boeotia in middle Greece with beautifully designed decorative pieces and structural terracotta jewelry.
Terracotta was adopted in the Hellenistic art period from 323-30 BCE, Early Christian art from c.200 CE, and Pre-Columbian art from 1000-500 BCE. It soon became widespread in sub-Saharan African carving executed by the secret Nok society of Nigeria in 1000 BCE, and the Igbo society of eastern Nigeria. After the Roman Empire defeat, the terracotta material vanished.
Soon after, Renaissance bronze restored the popularity of terracotta as a dominant means of creative invention and production. In Baroque sculpture, the belief was additionally detailed by Bernini from 1598 to 80 and Alessandro Algardi from 1598 to 1654, prominently in the region of welfare figure and representation statues. In the 18th century, terracotta widespread for ornamental characteristics. On the other hand, Antonio Canova remained to handle it for portraits, displaced by plaster in the 19th century.
How terracotta made
Ceramic potter earthenware or terracotta is red baked earth. It is a kind of ceramic earthenware. Few uses of terracotta include making of pots, pipes, floor tiles, utensils, bricks, sculptures, and many more. Terracotta is derived from the Italian word “baked earth”. In some regions, terracotta is preferred to define colors. As you have already seen, the material is usually pure brown-orange. The iron supply, reacting with oxygen through heating, offers the burned figure a reddish shade. However, the color differs broadly overtones of yellow, orange, buff, red, pink, grey, and brown.
Although, the potters have to work hard in order to give terracotta a pleasant shade. The artisans can use terracotta to make any shaped sculpture. They offer beautiful designs to the sculptures that attract buyers. After giving a perfect shape to the container or pot. It’s heated to 1,000-2,000° F to make a firm structure. The process strengthens the vessel and makes it durable for use. The material soaks too much water, which is not water-resistant. It will get destroyed if you pour water inside the vessel.
Terracotta is coated with glazing paint for making it durable for cooking and planting. The process makes it water perfect. Terracotta’s known from the early 14th century. The early peoples used to cook in terracotta vessels, which is yet popular. The Archeologists have discovered sculptures of elephants, horses, and great emperors, made of terracotta that are approximately 5,000 years old. This indicates the popularity of the material in the past.
Terracotta Usage Started in India
Terracotta is a prominent part of handmade art and ceramic for ages. Gujarat and Rajasthan are famous for homemade arts and clay work. Many tribal peoples have adopted terracotta artwork to earn money. Women are more active in the terracotta work field. The terracotta pots have a huge demand all over. The colorful and beautiful designs on heated terracotta pots with colorful paints. The attractive white painted terracotta jars are supplied all over the country. Moving on to Madhya Pradesh, you will find another fascinating attraction, designed terracotta rooftops.
In India, ancient terracotta figures, essentially spiritual, remain the same. The need for terracotta in the country is annual. Mostly, new porcelain and gods idol needed on the yearly festival. Meanwhile, the potters have to adopt a different income source for living their life. However, the potters have to work hard to offer unique designs to the pots and vessels to attracting buyers. Some buyers also ask potters to customize the products. The wholesalers purchase the terracotta products in bulk from the local potters and sell them in the market.
Making of Terracotta Clay Sculpture
As already said, terracotta is derived from a finely granular soil clay. The potters firstly give a definite shape to the clay, then heated. It is removed from the fire when turned rigid. In the early period, the clay was dried under sun heat, then heated in an open oven-like place. It gets baked at about 1000°C in particularly made ovens (kilns). After baking, the shaped clay gets a pleasant-looking brownish-orange color.
The color of terracotta clay depends on the heat temperature. It can get a deep red or black color if heated at a high flame. After baking, it is not watertight so, it is coated with glazing paint. The terracotta clay is also blended with normal clay to turn it watertight. Terracotta products are considerably more manageable and more affordable to design. The finished products are also decorated with stones or sea ornaments. Although, terracotta is normally polished in different colors and compositions for making it attractive.
Terracotta for Architecture
In the early 1860s in England and the 1870s in America, terracotta was adopted for the construction of buildings. Firstly, it was employed on a building in Birmingham, Natural History Museum London, the Victoria, Albert Museum (1859–71), and the Royal Albert Hall (1867–71). It was also decorated on St Stephen and All Martyrs’ Church in 1842-45 at Lever Bridge in Bolton. The church was mostly built on terracotta material that looked fantastic. Interestingly, terracotta gained consent for building constructions from the Arts and Crafts movement.
After the movement, it continued as handmade arts created by artists. The Chicago University in the United States was also a beginner of terracotta art. The designer Louis Sullivan (1856-1924), for example, was remarked for his extensive finished terracotta designing, which was notably challenging to imagine. The baked earthen clay was also adopted by Chicago architects Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) and John Root (1850-91) in the decoration surfaces of their Reliance Building (1895).
Benefit of Terracotta for the Environment
With increasing global warming, our environment degrading rapidly. Hence, it has become essential for peoples to use nature-friendly equipment and live a traditional life. Terracotta might not help in global warming, but it makes sure to keep you healthy. Health is the most important factor these days. Terracotta helps the food to maintain its nutrition value while cooking. It also helps to boost your immunity power. Adopting terracotta will protect the environment as well as keep you healthy.
Adopting the traditional culture that is eco-friendly has many benefits for everyone. Terracotta is trending again and making your house beautiful. We all know that clay is the purest form of earth. Cooking and eating in terracotta clay is beneficial for your body. Iron cannot decompose in the soil, but clay easily mixes with it. The natural purity of terracotta makes it an eco-friendly material. The production process of terracotta doesn’t include chemical involvement.
How Terracotta Utensils Hygienic for Health
Ayurveda is a well known natural medicine system obtained by herbs and plant roots. The historic Ayurveda suggest that clay vessel have many beneficial properties that can keep you healthy. Cooking in a clay pot is efficient as well as healthy. It makes the dish tastier and healthy. The food tastes different compared to regular iron utensils cooking. Improve the food quality by cooking in terracotta utensils or cookware. The material is compact and natural.
The nonconductor qualities of pottery let warmness and mist flow inside. However, cooking in terracotta might take too much time. The cooking process is slower than normal vessels. The benefit is that your dish will never burnout on medium flame. Significantly, cooking in a clay pot maintains the required mist and nutrient inside the vessel. The regular utensils are enamel coated, which tends to lose the nutrient when cooking for long.
Terracotta for Cooking
Terracotta clay is soluble in quality, and the material reacts with food fermentation and counterbalances the pH level. It is assumed to render the minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and sulfur. The process makes food healthy and tasty. The heat stability and slow process maintain the oil quantity and mist. You don’t have to add more oil and make it fatty to keep the moisture level.
We can never forget the traditional clay pot cooking technique from our ancestors. The moderate cooking and soluble quality of clay vessels grasp the fragrance and flavors, making the food nutrient-rich and tasty. The traditional clay pot food flavoring will make you remember your native land. The terracotta cookware is not too expensive. It looks awesome in your kitchen, but don’t require a pocketful of money. The taste is different from any other steel polished or aluminum utensil.
While cooking on the stove, you must cook on low heat and increase the flame. The flame must vary from time to time. However, the vessel shouldn’t get cooled and heated abruptly, as it might break. Terracotta cookware needs special care while handling the temperature. It will break if you keep a hot clay pot on a cold surface. You can also use over for cooking in terracotta cookware. Take out the vessel from the oven and place it on a cloth or wooden surface.
You don’t have to preheat the oven before cooking. The slow increase of the temperature inside the oven will keep the vessel safe from cracking. You can clean the utensil using warm water and a firm brush. Using soap or detergents while cleaning can make the pot useless. You will get the smell of soap in the next dish you prepare. Instead, you can use a little bit of baking soda. It will remove the smell of previously cooked food. If the stain is not going, keep warm water for some time, then try scrubbing.
Terracotta for Decoration
You might have seen people painting walls with terracotta color. Terracotta color makes the surrounding calm, warm, comfortable, and beautiful. The shades that are not too radiant neither too dull devise sensations of internal harmony. Terracotta keeps the environment mild and cozy. You have a busy day and relaxing peacefully in a room, with slow songs playing. The feeling will be just wonderful. You can also use terracotta colors for your furniture combined with the white wall color.
Terracotta pots are made in various dimensions from small containers to room level containers. The hanging terracotta pots give a distinct look to your garden and balconies. The panting pots and made with a small hole beneath, which removes excess water from the plants. It is available in many sizes and elegant dazzling shades. You can also paint the pots as per your choice at home. Painting terracotta vessel is efficient without any help of potters.
Types of Terracotta Clay Tiles
Terracotta is a stiff clay output adopted for the production of terracotta tiles and Terracotta bricks. You will get two types of terracotta tiles: polished and non-polished. The Italian work ‘terracotta’ is referred to as terra: clay and cotta: burnt. The clay handled for the production of terracotta tiles is of leading condition. The terracotta tiles come in different shades due to the iron oxide element. The clay is also utilized for the production of terracotta bricks for front building decoration. It gives a traditional yet attractive view of a house or building. On the other hand, terracotta tiles and cheaper than regular tyles.
Terracotta Clay Products Impact on the Market
Terracotta has recaptured the market with knowledgeable clay products. Small-scale industries have a huge benefit in terracotta production. It also helped in giving employment to tribal peoples. They started the manufacturing of terracotta pots, utensils, and arts. The hand-made products also helped the women to sufficient earn money. People slowly started adapting the traditional clay pot cooking culture to stay healthy.
Terracotta jewellery is also in trend these days. Terracotta has an earthen engaging orange color, which makes your look attractive. The craftsmen are adopting different shades and designs to make the pieces of jewellery attractive. It looks beautiful and enhances your beauty when combined with a traditional dress. Terracotta has no substitute elements and free from BPA (Bisphenol A). Terracotta is recyclable and does not degrade the environment.
Where to Buy Terracotta
If you haven’t brought a clay pot yet, then why are you waiting. After reading this post, you must be willing to buy one for you are your family. So, visit our clay pot section now. At Workmanship, we never compromise on quality. You can buy cheap and quality terracotta products here. You must move to terracotta cooking if you believe in adopting the lost Indian taste again.