Mitti Ka Kaam – Terracotta and Pottery

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Origin: Village Dewari, Pangna Valley, HP
Products: Ghade, Maths, Gharoloo, Diye, Karwe, Paru and Gamle

Tools Used: Potter’s wheel, Mud Kiln, Thread, Detailing Needles
Craftsperson: Inderdev Verma, Natar Verma

 


THE CRAFT

Terracotta is practiced as a hereditary craft in Pangna Valley, and can be traced back at least three generations. Over time, there has been a gradual shift in the products made – from simple earthen pots used to collect sap from the Cheel trees, to a variety of Ghade (earthen pots), Maths, Gharoloo (pots for churning butter), Diye (earthen lamps), Karwe, Paru and Gamle for domestic use.

Due to Pangna Valley’s unpredictable weather conditions, pottery is not practiced throughout the year. It peaks during summer and the festive seasons of Diwali and Karwa Chauth. At this time, approximately 10,000 karwes and diyas are given shape on the traditional potter’s wheel, single handedly. They are distributed and sold in several local markets across Pangna’s villages.


THE MAKING

At Pangna, clay is sourced from a town 2-3 hours away, and is first prepared by hand.

To do so, two types of soil with varying consistencies have to be combined, namely Khashar and Chikni. The mixture is left to dry and then pounded into a fine powder, which is kneaded well with water to prepare soft clay.  Great care is taken to ensure no stones or clumps are left behind, otherwise the end-product will fall apart post-firing.

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Inderdev Verma giving shape to a Paru on the traditional pottery wheel

 

The potter shapes the desired object on the traditional pottery wheel, and sets it out to dry for 3-4 days before it can be fired. The firing process takes place overnight in a mud kiln, and lasts about 8-9 hours. Four ingredients are essential to keep the fire ablaze: Troda, Bhussa, Upale and Paral.


THE CRAFTSMENIMG_20170627_111726

Pottery is practiced by Inderdev Verma, a skilled potter with over 50 years of experience, on the traditional potters wheel. The craft is carried forward by his son-in-law, Natar Verma, who uses the electric wheel.

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