Monday, 7 January 2013

Molela Potters and their Terracotta Plaques

The Maru potters of Molela near Udaipur in Rajasthan, are famous for their terracotta plaques depicting votive images. Produced mainly for their tribal customers, these are given for the shrines of their tribal gods. The Bhil tribals are the main customers of the potters, travelling hundreds of kilometers from the borders of Madhya Pradesh to purchase these plaques.

Simple hand forming techniques are involved in making these plaques. The clay is dug locally. It is mixed with donkey manure, roughly in a one is to four ratio; this is done to give the clay pliability. A slab is made with the distinctive dome-shaped top; the edges are raised to form the rim of the slab. The figures are formed with the fingers and must be hollow, so they do not burst in the kiln. These figures are completed by adding accessories like jewellery on them, made of tiny balls of clay. The plaques are dried for nine days. The firing is done in a temporary kiln.

About fifteen years ago one could still buy the plaques made by these potters in Delhi and some major cities of Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Here the potters would display their wares on the roadside during a special season and people would buy directly, from the potters. No longer economically viable, these potters do not come to the major cities anymore. 

Today these plaques are sometimes available from the Rajasthan State Emporium in Delhi during the festive months and upto the end of winter. Most of the potters otherwise sell directly to the client or through middlemen.

Recently these potters have also been noticed by architects and decorators and have gained much prominence. Their art and craft is being used to decorate the walls of urban Indian homes, farmhouses and corporate offices. This exposure has also helped them to interact with the Western market and they have demonstrated their production techniques in America, Europe and Japan. The demand has also had an effect on the style of their work. The potters often make larger plaques and instead of the traditional images they often depict local scenes of everyday life

This new social prominence has helped the Molela potters to raise their own living standards. More potters are being attracted to go back to their roots due to improved economic conditions. The Government of India has also recognised their talent and awarded Master Craftsmen status to some of the potters (check national award winners). 

The above text courtesy from the website of

In my collection i have Terracotta Gods  of Molela post card. The Terracotta gods in this post card are prepared by Molela Potters.

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