Pottery is an age-old art form that never goes out of style. From the ancient Egyptians to the Native Americans, every culture has its unique way of making pottery. And Meghalaya, a state nestled in the North East of India, has its own unique way of making black pottery, and the women folk are the leaders of this tradition.
Meghalaya is well known for its beautiful landscapes, dense forests, and colorful festivals. But, did you know that Meghalaya is also home to one of India’s most unique pottery-making traditions? This form of pottery is known as black pottery because of its black color. It’s one of the oldest and most enduring heritages of the Khasi tribe in Meghalaya.
The black pottery of Meghalaya is made exclusively by women because it’s believed that if men make them, then the pottery will break more often. The art of black pottery making has been passed down from one generation to the next for centuries. The women use clay to make different shapes and sizes of pots, bowls, plates, and other artifacts. The clay is then shaped, burnished, and fired in kilns at high temperatures.
The unique thing about Meghalaya’s black pottery is that it’s created using cow dung! Yes, you read that right – cow dung is an integral part of the black pottery making process. The dung is mixed with water and clay to make a coarse mixture that’s used as a coating on the pottery. This coating is what gives the pottery its distinctive black color.
The firing process is another unique aspect of Meghalaya’s black pottery. The pots are not fired in closed kilns, but in open pits, which are dug into the ground. The pots are placed upside down inside the pit and covered with grass and leaves. The pit is then set on fire, and the pots are fired for several hours until they’re hard and black.
The women of Meghalaya not only make the black pottery, but they also create intricate designs on them. These designs are usually inspired by nature and the surroundings of the village. The women use sharpened sticks to make the designs on the still wet clay, which is then burnished to give it a smooth texture.
In addition to making pottery, the women of Meghalaya also contribute significantly to their families’ income. They sell their wares in the local markets as well as to the tourists who visit the state. Demand for black pottery has been increasing steadily over the years, which has led to more women taking up pottery making as a profession.
Black pottery making in Meghalaya is not just an art form; it’s a way of life. It’s a way of preserving the traditional and cultural heritage of the Khasi tribe. The meticulous attention to detail, the patience and skill required to make the pottery, and the stories and folklore passed down from one generation to the next make black pottery a unique and fascinating art form.
So, the next time you visit Meghalaya, make sure you take the time to appreciate the beauty and history behind this unique piece of art. Remember to thank the hardworking women who create these beautiful works of art using cow dung, clay, and their magical hands. If you’re lucky, you might be able to take home a piece of Meghalaya’s black pottery and share the story of this ancient art form with your friends and family.