Longpi Pottery of Manipur
Longpi Pottery is a traditional craft from Manipur, India, created by the Thankhul Naga tribes of the Ukhrul district. It is known for its unique black color and smooth finish. The pottery-making process does not involve the use of a potter’s wheel, chemicals, machines, or wheels. Instead, artisans use weathered rock and serpentine rock as raw materials, which are exclusively found in Longpi. The pots are shaped by hand using bamboo implements and molds made of wood or stone.
Longpi Pottery is versatile in its functionality. The pots and pans can be used for direct cooking over gas stoves or firewood, and they are also microwave-safe. They are especially suitable for simmering and slow cooking, as they homogenize and condense meat and lentils. Even after being taken off the heat, the contents of the pot continue to sizzle for a long time, ensuring that the food remains hot. This craftsmanship is characterized by its practicality and durability.
The making process involves mixing black serpentinite stone and weathered rock in a specific ratio to create a paste. The artisans then roll this paste by hand into the desired shapes. The molded pieces are fired in a kiln for several hours until they reach a temperature of 900 degrees Celsius. Afterward, the pottery is polished with local leaves called Imlay and Kuhi, which impart the black color and luster to its surface. The final products include cooking pots, kettles, bowls, mugs, and trays, often adorned with fine cane handles and knobs, adding an earthy yet contemporary appearance.
Despite the declining traditional markets, efforts are being made to develop new designs and introduce Longpi Pottery to contemporary buyers. The aim is to create a new market for this age-old craft, preserving its cultural significance and promoting its eco-friendly nature. Longpi pottery serves not only as a functional utensil but also as a decorative item, with its smooth and lustrous finish captivating the senses. Through these endeavors, the hope is to revive and sustain this fascinating craft for generations to come.
Khavda Pottery of Bhuj
The art of Khavda Pottery started during the Indus Valley Civilisation, in the region of present-day Kutch. The gold and beaded jewellery, terracotta toys and bronze figurines, and seals with symbols found at the sites reflect the objects we use till this day. One such object, unchanged through millennia, is the earthen pot, an ubiquitous object seen all over the country.
In the small village of Khavda, Bhuj, Gujarat, for generations, craftsmen have been making earthen pots with the same process and designs as those seen in the Indus Valley excavations. Khavda is a small village at the rim of the Rann of Kutch. It has skilled craftsmen like Abdul bhai, whose forefathers migrated here from Sindh a few hundred years ago.
While the men do all the throwing in this pottery craft, the women handle all the surface decoration, which, in this northern Kutch village of Khavda, is primarily in the form of painting. The potter gets mud from a specific acre (a lake) area near their village. It is called “Rann ki Mitti”. This soft clay is shaped into a pot on a potter’s wheel and left to dry in the shade, then Kumbhar women use red, black, and white clay-based paints to decorate each piece of pottery with distinct community-specific designs.
After a while, the pot is cleaned and put in the sun to dry, and then baked in a furnace powered by simple and locally available fuels of dry wood and cow dung. The vessels are coated with a thin wash of geru (red color). The pots of Khavda get their red colour from Geru, a type of soil (ocher/umber), and the black-and-white dots and stripes are also made with natural materials.
Blue Pottery of Jaipur
Jaipur Blue Pottery is a vibrant ceramic art that originated in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It uses a special mixture of quartz stone powder, glass, clay, and other ingredients to create delicate and translucent pottery. It is known for its blue and white designs influenced by Persian, Mughal, and Indian styles.
This pottery is admired for its beauty, durability, and heat resistance. It is made using local materials and traditional techniques. The production process involves steps like dough preparation, molding, scrubbing, painting, glazing, and firing in a kiln.
The raw materials used in creating Jaipur Blue Pottery include quartz stone, glass, edible gum, fullers earth, soda bicarbonate, flour, oxide colors, and various other ingredients. These materials are sourced locally and contribute to the unique colors, textures, and characteristics of the pottery.
The production process involves a range of tools and equipment such as grinding machines, sieves, molds, weighing tools, shaping tools, brushes, a kiln for firing, and more. The entire process requires skill and attention to detail at each stage.
The steps involved in making blue pottery products include dough preparation, mold making, casting, scrubbing, finishing, base attachment, smoothening, designing, painting, glazing, and firing. This time-consuming process ensures that each piece is crafted with care and precision.
Initially used for decorating temples, mosques, and palaces, Jaipur Blue Pottery has evolved to include a wide range of products. These can include water jugs, vases, jars, plates, bowls, ashtrays, lamp stands, coasters, photo frames, and much more.