Since time immemorial art has flourished itself in different forms and artists have given interesting, innovative shapes to those. Art may be tangible or intangible but it always serves the purpose of soothing human psyche. Creation gets a new lease of life through art. In this particular article, to discuss about terracotta let’s start with its meaning. The etymology says terracotta is an Italian word meaning ‘baked earth’. The structures made out of earthy soils are termed terracotta. It originated in the ancient age world and still continues as the most popular and widely used art form. In India Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan civilisation have evidences of terracotta handicrafts (earthy pots, bowls, necklaces, bangles etc.).


The terracotta temples are mostly influenced by the Hindu philosophy of Vaishnavism and hence depict the life of Lord Krishna and Radha through its sculpture and architecture. The Shyam Rai temple, which is also known as the Pacchura Temple because of the five pinnacles that it has is one of the most important terracotta temple in Bishnupur, West Bengal, along with the Kesto Rai temple. The Kesto Rai temple is also known as the “Jora-Bangla” temple because two roofs of the temples are joined and apart from depicting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna, it also depicts scenes from the Indian epic Mahabharata.


The terracotta sculptures are formed out of certain meagre components like soil or broken bricks, stones etc., which are easily available. So availability of raw materials is in bulk and it is even eco-friendly. No cosmetics or chemicals are applied as such. Even the market gave popularity to earthen structures and increased its sale which eventually updated its utility. Though, history proves that terracotta was used not only as sculptures or ornaments, but also as utensils and for room decoration. Similar applications are still being done. Earthen vessels are made besides sculptures of gods, animals and various other things. It is even decorated as wind chimes or wall decors to add to the beauty of the house. The baked or fired clay mould serves as a strong base. Glazed or unglazed ceramic vessels, roofing tiles, bricks etc., are made out of it. The clay bodies are generally porous and orange in colour. Sometimes some clay pots or vessels are decorated with vibrant colours and flowers. Terracotta tales, thus, ends with a happy note because it has evolved and survived even today.