• Magazine Web Edition
  • October/November/December 2019
  • Arts & Crafts: Artisans Reign at the Dilli Haat Exhibit
  • Arts & Crafts: Artisans Reign at the Dilli Haat Exhibit


    Pottery Factoids

    Imageottery is famous in most Asian countries and is considered one of the most iconic elements of Indian regional art. Its history, exquisite beauty and chic features have made it a modern form of Indian decor.

    History indicates the art of pottery had its origins in India, in the Neolithic age. Evidence of pottery has been found during the Vedic period, the Indus Valley Civilization and also during the Mughal Period. Vedic pottery was handmade and unpainted, raw in nature and very utilitarian. These pots were used to store water during summer. Later, pottery was also used to manufacture plates, glasses, cups and even saucepans. There was a time when pottery was the main source of income for the traditional Indian business class.

    The phase of painted pottery started in India during the 12th century, during the Mughal period. The Muslim rulers encouraged potters from Persia, Central Asia and the Middle East to come and settle in India. With the rise of pottery culture in India, Indian pots were exported to different parts of the world.

    Red polished potteries are still widely found in Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Modern India calls pottery by the Italian name terra-cotta, literally “baked earth.” The East Indian state of Orissa is the ambassador of terra-cotta handicrafts.

    The ancient art of pottery has today become a chic and modern way to design and decorate traditional Indian homes. Architects and interior designers have learned that the presence of terra-cotta handicrafts creates an ambiance of warmth inside the home. The old has again become new.




    Toys Are Not Just for Play


    Imageoys have existed in india since the Indus Valley Civilization 5,000 years back. Toys and games were not only meant to keep children entertained, but also to teach them how to develop their minds and understand what life had in store for them. Unlike the fancy and expensive toys sold in stores today, traditional Indian toys and games were simple and took their inspiration from nature. They were designed on the basis of how a child would react to them and how it would apply to real life.

    Dolls: Quite unlike the dolls of today, traditional Indian dolls were made from the simplest materials, such as plant shoots, cloth and clay. At times, a mixture of cow dung, sawdust and clay were shaped into dolls and coated with bright paints. In northern India, Janmashtami is related in its entirety by means of clay dolls. In South India, the Dasara festival is called Bommai Kolu or a display of dolls. Traditionally, a married woman was supposed to add at least one doll to her collection every year.

    Puppets: Puppets were not only the tools of skilled puppeteers, they were also used by parents to tell stories to their children. The children themselves used puppets to create their own stories, spurred by their imagination. It gave them a way to convey their emotions by transferring them to an inanimate object.

    Bhatukli: These miniature versions of kitchen utensils and other household items were scaled down to the greatest detail and were made from copper and brass. These were played with by children as they watched their mothers cook and their family members make use of everyday household items. Today these miniature utensils give us an idea of what life was like in rural households.

    Chaturaji: Four-handed Chaturaji is an apparent predecessor of modern chess. The game is played by four players, unlike two players on the conventional chess board. In addition, it involves a component of chance in the form of a single stick dice known as the daala. The players form two teams: Players 1 and 3 against players 2 and 4. Each player gets eight characters: four pawns, a king, an elephant, a horse and a ship.

    Pachisi: The Pachisi board was made of cloth in a patchwork design. The four arms/limbs of the board are conjoined at the center, called charkoni. Each arm of the Pachisi has three marked squares, which are called “castles.” The game set comes with a set of 12 beehive-shaped wooden pawns in colors of yellow, black, red and green. The players throw cowrie shells on the charkoni, and the moves of the pawns are determined by the number on the shells that fall with the open face. Each player is allocated four pawns, and the objective of the game is to get all four to complete the round of the board before your opponents do. The game’s modern variants include Ludo and American Parcheesi.

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