Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spotlight on Terracotta

Alright, trivia time! What is common between a Bankura horse and an Ayyanar horse?  Anyone? 
If you guessed Terracotta horses, then you are absolutely right! 
South Indian terracotta horse. image via
 I want to turn the spotlight on to Terracotta - perhaps, the oldest known art form to mankind!
At home. Photo credits: Uj, my better half.
The Italians take credit for nomenclature. “Baked earth” or Terra cotta was the earliest used serve ware by man. In India, the use of terracotta has evolved past simple pottery to the creation of complex figurines with breathtakingly beautiful details. While most Indian art forms are regional in their origin, utility and allure, Terracotta is not!  Terracotta has flourished as a nationwide art form with village potters engaging in this craft all over India. However, there are singular regional differences in style and design. 

Beautiful Bankura horses. image via
The Bankura horse of Panchmura, West Bengal is known for its elegant stance while the Ayyanar horse of Tamil Nadu has made a name for itself based on its mythical interest. The Bastar terracotta elephant of Madhya Pradesh has a striking form and the terracotta products from the tribes of Gujarat differ entirely in detail from the ones mentioned earlier. 
Bastar Terracotta. Image via
One art form – and so many variations and there in lies the appeal of Indian terracotta accents!  Want to learn more?  Click  here, here and here.
What I love the most about terracotta is the orange tint, the earthen allure, the rustic appeal and its simplicity! Makes it easy to find a place for a terracotta accent in your home, indoor or outdoor - yes, even if your décor style is Pottery barn chic! Next time you are in India, scout your local Haat or Bazaar and buy a terracotta horse, an elephant or an urn. You cannot go wrong and this I promise!    
A corner from my home. Photo credits: Uj, my better half

Or get creative like Supriya did - Supriya found these terracotta figurines in Ten Thousand Villages..where she routinely discovers uncommon colors, textures and shapes. Ten Thousand Villages supports fair trade practices that are good for people and good for the earth, by encouraging artisan partners to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources and recycled materials. Terracotta is a prime example.

Snap shots from Supriya's home - gorgeous aye?
So, spruce up that unused corner with a few floor cushions and throw in a terracotta figurine or a planter. Simple ways to make a big impact!  Grouping similar objects is also a great way to add that extra punch! 
A corner from my home. Photography: Uj, my better half
With Diwali right around the corner, don’t forget to stock up on the traditional terracotta diyas – nothing says Diwali quite like those earthen lamps!

……and talking about Diwali, stay tuned for our upcoming Diwali posts – that’s right! We want to inspire you to take your Diwali planning up a notch this year–right here at Aalayam!


  1. I found your site via your comments/link on rangdecor. Your blog posts are thoroughly researched and well written with great pics. I will be visiting often.

  2. Thank you for following the url back to Aalayam. That's our goal - a visually and intellectually stimulating experience...
    Please feel free to share our link with your friends that might be interested.


  3. Got here from Rang Decor, you have an amazing space here that brings out the richness in the culture and traditions of Indian. Indepth beautiful write ups and lovely pics. Will be back for more soon.

  4. Thank you vandana! Our culture is rich and deserves to be showcased...this is a humble attempt. Thanks for the words of encouragement.


  5. Well written Deepa! Love all your blog posts!

  6. Beautiful write up on terra cotta. One of my favourite art forms, I love its rustic appeal and natural colour,. I live in Mumbai and there are many handicraft expos taking place here which have an abundance of such artifacts. Absolutely love them