Sparkle of Terracotta


According to the dictionary the Terracotta art means hard,fired clay,brownish in colour when unglazed which is used to make architectural ornaments and facings, structural units, pottery and as a material for sculpture. The word ‘Terracotta’ came from Latin word ‘Terra-cotta’ and in Italian language Terrakotta means ‘baked-earth’.  

 Basically Terracotta is a type of earthenware or Ceramic pottery. At 1st we should have enough knowledge about earthenware. Earthenware is glazed or unglazed non-vitreous pottery which is made on fire below 1,200°C (2,190°F). So what do you say ? ‘baked-earth’ makes sense right? 

Normally Terracotta is used for sculpture making. But not only for sculpture but also for flower vas, doll,pot,water pipes, bricks,roofing tiles etc. Even there are also many temples of Terracotta. It is too flexible material for sculpture.Terracotta is usually a fairly coarse, porous type of clay. At first it has to be shaped then fired until hard. In the past, it was left to harden in the hot sun ,after that it was baked in primitive ovens. Ultimately, it was fired (at about 1000°C) in a special oven, kilns. After baking the clay became a brownish colour. Until it was glazed it was not watertight.terracotta is too simple than other bronze or other material work. 

It was 1st used in Prehistoric art according to Venus of Dolni Vestonice (26,000-24,000 BCE) which was found buried in a layer of ash in Moravia at a paleolithic encampment. Some famous Terracotta figures are- The Thinker of Cernavoda(5000 BCE), The Enthroned Goddess Figurine(6000 BCE).Bronze and Iron Age artists kept the culture of the terracotta tradition, like the female fertility cult figures unearthed at Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan (3000-1500 BCE), and The Burney Relief (1950 BCE) from Ancient Mesopotamia. On the other hand we must say Chinese art created the biggest example of Terracotta art, those are-The Terracotta Army (246-208 BCE). Around the Mediterranean,such as early Egyptian, Minoan, Mycenaean, Greek and Etruscan cultures, employed terracotta for figurative works – such as the Tanagra Figurines from Boeotia in central Greece – besides  decorative art and architectural ornamentation.Particularly in the era of Hellenistic art (323-30 BCE) it was widely used by sculptors. It was also used in Early Christian art, for tomb reliefs (from c.200 CE). Terracotta is also famous in African sculpture, pre-Columbian art.

In India Terracotta is famous in the same way as in the past. In India Terracotta is a heritage culture. It is very common that there are many things of terracotta at most homes in India. ‘Bishnupur’ in West Bengal is a great source of Terracotta sculptures or other things. Murshidabad, Birbhum, Jessore, Digha (all are in West Bengal)  are also the treasure of Terracotta. There are also famous in Rajasthan, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir etc.