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Exploring the Rich Heritage of Terracotta

One of the most renowned art forms of Bengal has to be the rustic Terracotta art of Murshidabad, Birbhum and Bankura. The word ‘Terracotta’ is Italian and has its origin in the Latin ‘tera cocta’ meaning baked earth. As the name suggests, terracotta is a form of ceramic pottery created with baked or burnt clay. It is one of the most ancient traditional art forms of rural Bengal. The deep orange of the terracotta artwork sets it apart from most other handicrafts.

Terracotta dates back to early 17th century and is still a widely popular craft. Modern day terracotta enterprise consists of mostly home décor and jewellery pieces. Intrinsic detailing can be seen in the terracotta sculptures and figurines. Whether it be figures of deities or animals, every piece of terracotta has fine details and stylised imagery.

Talking about terracotta, one has to mention the charismatic terracotta temples of Bishnupur, Bankura. Built purely out of baked clay, these houses of worship are a formidable sight. Bishnupur or ‘the city of Lord Vishnu’ was constructed over 700 years during the reign of the Malla rulers. The temple complex consists of brick and clay temples with ornate carvings depicting scenes from various mythological texts and scriptures.