Mitti Ka Kaam – Terracotta and Pottery

QUICK OVERVIEWP1000930

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.

IMG_0243
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.

Kullu Aur Kinnaur Ki Shawls – Woolen Handloom Craft

QUICK OVERVIEWDSCN3404

Origin: Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Products: Kullu and Kinnauri Shawls, Per Wool cloth for Himachali Jackets
Tools Used: Weaving Loom, Thread wheel, Needles
Craftsperson: Lakshman Ram

 

 


THE CRAFT

The high altitude climate of Himachal Pradesh, locally available wool from reared sheep and goat, and quality pashmina wool from Tibet, has made weaving and spinning important domestic industries in the state. Once popular in Pangna, this craft is slowly dying out unprofitable returns.

The chief products made by the few remaining craftsmen are Kullu and Kinnauri Shawls – characterised by the twill-woven body in the grey, off-white, fawn or brown shades of natural wool and the tapestry woven borders in multicoloured geometrical forms. These patterns and motifs have a variety of names like Patti, Phool and Mandir.

The shawls are woven from two types of thread – ruffle and cashmere – that are soft to the touch and sourced from local markets. Earlier a coarser, warmer wool – per wool – was used to weave simple shawls. But over the years, there has been a gradual shift to more pattern centered and colorful shawls. Per wool continues to be weaved into cloth, but only for the traditional Himachali jackets.


THE MAKING

DSCN3410
Laxman Ram at work on his loom, weaving a Kullu Shawl

Similar to any hand loom, the process begins with sourcing the threads and laying them out on the ground in order. The patterns are chosen, adjusted into the loom, and the threads are transferred accordingly. The weaver weaves in regular intervals, stopping to incorporate the intricate geometrical designs by hand. Once the product is finished, it is separated from the loom and cleaned before sale.


THE CRAFTSMEN

Lakshman Ram is part of the third generation of hand loom weavers in his family. He grew up learning the craft from his maternal and paternal grandparents, and continued on his own from a young age. Lakshman has been weaving for the last 40 years and has conducted several training sessions in the surrounding regions. Most of his shawls are commissioned from past customers, especially during winter, while others selling big at Melas and exhibitions in cities like Delhi.

Bans Ka Kaam

QUICK OVERVIEW

DSCN3414
Tula Ram at work crafting the Mahamaya Mandir in  Pangna Town

Origin: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Products: Temple Miniatures, Ships, Monuments, Name Plates, Animals
Tools Used: Carving knife, Scale, Scissors, Hammer, Pliers, Compass, Tweezers, Sandpaper
Craftsperson: Pawan Kumar

                                   

THE CRAFT

Several types of bamboo are locally available in Pangna’s neighbouring forests. Yet, bamboo craft is quite new to the region and is slowly gaining popularity.

Brought in from Rajasthan, this craft predominantly produces show/gift pieces that are displayed in local transport (busses), homes and offices. Some of the products made include temple miniatures, ships, famous monuments, name plates, animals etc. The intricate work involves using bamboo strips to construct a variety of forms that may or may not be encased in glass cases.  Depending on the amount of detail, making a single structure could take anywhere between 3 days to a month.


THE MAKING

The process begins by taking basic photographs of the structure to be replicated in bamboo. The craftsmen then prepare a sketch with approximate measurements and dimensions. The bamboo is sliced into thin sheets or strips, and polished finely to give it a nice sheen. It is cut into smaller pieces and glued together with fevicol to build the structure.

DSCN3444
An assortment of tools used in the craft

Once the desired product is made, figurative details are carved on and the artifacts are polished with sandpaper before sale.

 

 

 

 

 


THE CRAFTSMEN

Tula Ram is the first craftsman to bring bamboo craft to Pangna. In the business for the last 19 years, he learnt the trade from a distant relative who had studied the craft in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and spent 5-6 years as an apprentice before returning to Pangna to start his own practice. He specializes in making miniature replicas of temples, and his work is recognized across Himachal Pradesh.

DSCN3418
Some of Tula Ram’s work across the years

 

Tula has received several commissions from known political leaders and important persons across the state. Today, he also conducts training sessions for interested youths and hopes the craft is carried forward.