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.


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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Dev Ke Mohre/ Mukhote Ka Kaam – Mask Making

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Mela procession of the Gihinag Deity in Pangna Valley

Origin: Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Products: Mohras, Mukhote, Chattris    Musical Instruments: Dhol, Nagada, Karnal
Tools Used: Hammer, Chisels, Files, Punches, Tongs
Craftsperson: Pawan Kumar


The Craft

Pangna Valley has over 50-60 presiding deities, who travel through the hills and valleys for numerous festivities, melas and religious processions throughout the year.

Mask Making or broadly Sheet Metal Work (Tattar-ka-kaam) largely caters to the ceremonial requirements of the region’s temples. It is closely associated with traditional Himachali folklore and tales.

The chief products made are mohras or mukhote, the sheet masks depicting the various divinities worshipped locally; chattries, the umbrellas used to shield the deity when they are taken out of temple premises in festive processions; and a range of musical instruments including Dhol, Nagada, Narasingha and Karnal.

On celebratory occasions, several devotees commission their presiding deity’s abhushan in gold, silver or brass, upto 6 months in advance. During the 9 days of the Dussehra festival, the craft receives added impetus when a temporary market ‘mela’ is set up, and similar sheet metal objects such as brass and silver utensils used in domestic rituals and a variety of instruments are purchased by the devotees.


The Making

The process of mask making begins with the sourcing metal sheets, transferring the hand-drawn form via a process called die-transfer and then die-pressing or light beating.

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Assortment of tools used in the making process

Once the desired shape is achieved, the object is heated in a coal fired kiln to soften it and grant it luster. The figurative details are carved on and the artifacts are polished with lemon leaves. The basic tools used are hammer, chisels, files, punches and tongs.


The Craftsmen

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Pawan Kumar at work – making a traditional ‘Dhol’

Pawan Kumar, son of the local blacksmith, began his career as a blacksmith but soon moved away from his family’s trade to explore other crafts. During his time at Kullu, he learnt Thattar-ka-kaam and came back to work in his village — post apprenticeship. For the past 14 years, Kumar has worked on more than — sets of abhushan for Pangna’s numerous deities. He also specializes in making a range of processional instruments, and has conducted workshops in neighboring districts. While he handles most of the work, during peak season his family chips in for the big orders.

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The Karnal – usually a part of religious ceremonial processions

Call for Internship – 1st Feb – 27th Feb 2017

In February there will be an interesting new building project in Baag. We will add two new structures to the Farmers Center: a kitchen and a horse shed. For both structures we will use the sustainable rammed earth technique. If this sounds interesting to you and you would like to experience this process yourself or participate in it, you should definitely have a look at the attached document!

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