Terracotta - Spinning the Wheel
Posted: Thursday, September 25th, 2008 | Views: 27708
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The art of pottery goes back in time and is evidence of man's first attempt at craftsmanship.
Mangalore has a great history of terra cotta work. Travellers of yore like Ptolemy and Peitro Dellavelle and even Chinese and Arabian merchants have been recorded carrying clay from Mangalore to their native lands. The Chinese also sent some of their "china" to Mangalore, which you now find in Barkur, formerly part of the Vijayanagar Empire. Pottery is one of mankind's oldest vocations. Prehistoric (sometimes Neolithic) remains of pottery in Scandinavia, England, France, Italy, Greece and North and South America have proved of great importance in archaeology and are often a means of dating and establishing an early chronology. Pottery has also been of value as historical and literary records; ancient Assyrian and Babylonian writings have been inscribed on clay tablets. Simple geometric patterns in monochrome, polychrome or incised work are common to pottery of prehistoric and primitive cultures. Mangaloreans love this old art and have an inclination to make it part of their everyday life and culture.
The Clay is sourced after careful selection from different places in the region such as Polai, Moodbidri etc. The mud is dark brown in colour, smooth, soft and easily mouldable. Once the mud is mixed really well with water, it is set on the floor to be kneaded with the feet with other sundry ingredients.
If this requires muscle power, the next step loading the wheel, setting it in motion, and shaping the clay requires skill, strength and some astute multi-tasking. Expertise and experience plays a major role here. Once the clay is moulded, it is kept under the sun for a while and baked in kilns. The final product is a deep brick colour, sturdy, dry and ready to be used.
And all of us who have had the good fortune of having tasted food cooked in a mud pot will vouch for the fact that there cannot be anything more scrumptious! Time was when tiled houses and earthen water pots were characteristic of Mangalore. The typical homes with elegant tiled roofs with cool verandahs were ideal for the hot, coastal climate.
But of late the city's demand for terracotta products, either pots or tiles, has been rather mixed. Today we find more decorative oriented terracota products such as vases, jars, lamps etc which are mere attraction rather than a utility.
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