Pottery has been one of the ancient arts practiced in India. No one knows since when the wheel of a potter has been spinning. However, its presence can be traced back to the Neolithic age. The objects found during that point of time primarily included handmade pottery in various colors such as red, orange, brown, black and cream. The different types of utensils mainly used were bowls, jars, vessels, etc. The excavations at the archaeological sites of Harrappan and Mohenjodaro have clearly indicated the age of wheel-made pottery.
The relics belonging to the Indus Valley civilization were characterized by well - burnt black painted red wares. These were simple earthenware, which were widely used in day to day activities. However with time, Indian pottery went into evolution and a number of distinct styles emerged out from the simple art of molding clay. Some of the popular forms of Indian pottery styles are given below
It is the oldest form of pottery practiced in India, which has developed with time, offering a wide range to its customers. There are basically three types of unglazed pottery. First is the paper thin pottery, wherein biscuit colored pottery is decorated with incised patterns. Next utilizes the scrafito technique, wherein the pot is polished and painted with red and white slips along with intricate patterns, while the outline is incised. The third is highly polished pottery, which is given strong, deeply incised, stylized patterns of arabesques. Unglazed pottery is practiced throughout the country, with each region having its own speciality. Black pottery is yet another form of unglazed pottery, which resembles the Harrappan pottery style.
The era of glazed pottery began in the 12th century AD, when Muslim rulers encouraged potters from the Middle East to settle in India. The examples of fine glazed pottery of Persian models with Indian designs, dating back to the Sultanate period have been found in Gujarat. The glazed pottery is practiced only in selected regions of the country. It basically contains a white background and blue and green patterns, which are commonly found in Delhi, Amritsar, Jaipur, Khurja, Chunar and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, and Karigari in Tamil Nadu. Blue Pottery practiced in Delhi, Khurja and Jaipur is also a form of glazed pottery.
Terracotta is yet another famous and common style of pottery practiced in India. In Bihar, Bengal and Gujarat, women prepare clay figures to propitiate their Gods and Goddesses, during festivals. Moela in Rajasthan has its own distinct style of pottery. Here, local deities are created with molded clay on a flat surface, which are then fired and painted in bright colors. In Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, potters create separate pieces of an object on wheel and then join them later. Tamil Nadu is famous for its terracotta figures of Aiyanar Deity while Gujarat makes votive figures like horses with riders, etc
In the year 1398, when India was invaded by Tamur Lane, many craftsmen from Central Asia and Persia accompanied him here and were placed in Samarkhand. The son of Sultan Sikander was captivated by Tamur Lane, who learnt this unique craft made of paper pulp. On becoming the king after his father’s death, the prince spread this art amongst the craftsmen of his region. The base of this pottery is paper pulp, which is coarsely mashed and mixed with copper sulphate and rice-flour paste. After this, it is shaped by covering the mould with a thin paper and layers of this mixture. The designers then sketch the designs on the item, which is finally lacquered and polished in bright colors. A touch of golden color is always found on all papier - mache products, as it has roots in the Persian design.