Clay & Terracotta of Madhya Pradesh

Clay & Terracotta of Madhya Pradesh

The tribal groups found in these areas are Bhils, Bhilalas, Barelas, Patalias, Nayaks, and Mankas. Jhabua is known for votive horse figures. Horse figures, solid or hollow, are painted ochre and white. The white surface sometimes has red dots. Figures are crafted by making cylinders and then joining them together. Folk idols of the goddess Lakshmi are in great demand during Diwali time.

Bhils and Bhilalas of Jhabua make clay temples called dhabas, ranging in height from 1cm to 1m. These are are offered with terracotta horses at the village shrine. The top of the dhabas are decorated with a kalash or a circular pot-like motif. The dhaba has a small door through which a diya or lamp can be placed inside. Horse figures are offered to the deities two days before Diwali (on dhan teras and kali choudas) and between the months of April and June ( chitra and vaishakh). A community meal is organised. Clay horses are also offered to ward off evil spirits from the fields and to seek blessings for a bumper crop. Terracotta from Jhabua has crude, solid, and plain figures. Hollow terracotta figures are big and stylised. Life-size figures of sargujas are made. The figures are painted with white chalk and ochre. Mandla terracottas show tantric influences and figures from Betul have form and variety.

During Diwali, terracotta idols of the goddess Mahalakshmi, and of gaulang or elephants and horses with riders are moulded as solid figures, washed with lime and painted brightly. The region also specialises in making terracotta heads of Gangaur, a local form of Goddess Parvati. These heads are fixed on poles and adorned with clothes.

Cylindrical figures of Gangaur idols are made and installed in houses during the month of Chaitra. Adla pakshi or love birds is a popular figure in this region; the heads of the love bird are attached to a common cylindrical body with a pair of wings and are a symbol of inseparable lovers.

The toys are handmade and are either hollow or solid. They are made usually by women. Animal figures like horses, elephants, dogs, lions, birds, deer, and bulls fixed on wheels are very popular with children. The sizes of the figures are usually small. Solid figures have a lot of variety and are more popular than hollow ones. Artisans also make hollow bird whistles.

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