Clay craft has been practiced and utilized in India from ancient days. For making various sculptures and pottery clay has been used and developed by our ancestors. The existence of baked and unbaked clay products and figures can be traced back to the Neolithic period. Terracotta uses were also evident in Mesopotamia as early as 2800 B.C as roofs, wall bricks, flooring and as well as decorative. Most of the terracotta figurines discovered from ancient sites are regarded as the tradition of art, literature and religion of that region. In the olden days, clay products were dried in the sun after being shaped. With time new innovative developments were initiated where the clay products were firstly baked using a furnace to harden them so that the item can last for long. Pottery, Earthenware and Terracotta are the terms given to represent the clay products that are mostly used to make utensils and a few other decorative items which are created by experienced artisans. The word Terracotta means “Baked Earth” which is a hard waterproof ceramic clay used for making pottery, decorative and embellishments. The items made out of these materials are mostly natural brown in their colour. Terracotta products are formed by processing and purifying the clay and then placing it on a turning wheel to shape out the beauty of the mould into any required product or a decorative.
The shaped products are then baked in a closed furnace to make the products strong and durable, the products also obtain the brick colour while they are being baked in the furnace. Finished clay products are then arranged and painted with various colours and decorated with clay beads to enhance their beauty. It is believed that everything living on the earth goes back to earth in the form of ‘Panchtatva’, the terracotta. In accordance with Indian Mythology Panchtatva represents the five basic elements from which life evolves. The five elements which create the Panchtatva are Earth, Water, Light, Wind and sky.
All over India, there are various states where clay crafts are still practiced and kept alive through years of tradition. One such region, Kochi (Cochin) belonging to the state of Kerala is very famous for its extraordinary working skills on clay. Kochi the port city of Kerala has a rich culture and tradition. Before Kochi was called as Cochin and later it got changed to Kochi. It is a very famous city for tourists and is widely known for its spice trading centre. The city of Kochi lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabic Sea has become a destination for travellers.
A twenty-five-year-old artisan named Glen, who was born in a traditional potter’s family still practices the terracotta crafts to date. He is a graduate of Maharashtra College and as their family stopped making the terracotta products he couldn’t learn it from them. After completing his degree Mr Glen went to Trivandrum to learn the art of pottery and he did a three months course. After the course, he started working full time in a workshop where he met Mr Suresh Kumar and made him his master who helped him learn different techniques in the terracotta model. After two and a half years of experience, Mr Glen came back to Kochi and started his own shop where he employed many people and taught them the craft. He won many state awards for his wonderful clay artefacts and even conducted many workshops in schools and colleges. He also received an award from Lalit Kala academy for his marvellous clay work. In the year 1994, he was appreciated by Sonia Gandhi for his sculpture of Indira Gandhi.