Pottery

Pottery's craft is steeped in mythology. The first humans are said to have been shaped from clay by Brahma, the Creator and indeed the name with which potter's are most closely identified, prajapati, is one of Brahma's titles.

Potters claim another link to the divine. When Shiva wished to marry Parvati it is said they lacked a necessary water pot, so Shiva created a man and a woman from two beads plucked from his necklace - the man created the pot and together the man and the woman created a lineage of potters. Today potters are also known as Kumbhar or Kumbar, a name shaped with the ubiquitous water pot (Kumbh).

Despite the intrusion of plastic into the market place, the potter's craft is evident in every household and at shrines throughout the country. Smooth, round terracotta water pots are arguably the most commonly used household utensils in India; the narrow neck prevents spillage as women carry the pots on their heads between the well and their homes. Although plastic pots are also used these days, baked cake keeps the water pleasantly cool in a country where many households have no access to refrigeration. Potters also make a variety of cooking utensils; some say traditional dishes just don't taste the same prepared in metal pots and pans. In Tamilnadu, it's traditional to smash one's old pots on the eve of the Pongal (harvest) festival, and replace them with new ones. This custom keeps potters all over the state busy.

Pots and storage jars of various kinds are created on the wheel; sometimes they are built up using slabs or coils. Plaster moulds are occasionally used.

The Mughals manufactured coloured and patterned glazed - tiles with which they decorated their mosques, forts and palaces. Blue pottery (such as vases, plates, tiles and doorknobs), largely for export is made in various places in around India; the main centre is between Jaipur and Khurja.