Craft in Architecture

Architectural, Interior Crafts

Craft in Architecture: Jhingati - Terracotta Roof Tiles

The oldest type of roofing tile in the Kathmandu Valley is the jhingati, a flat and thick rectangular piece. Jhingatis can still be found on roofs of temples and old buildings. Their durability and strength bear testimony to the quality of workmanship of the artisans. These roofing tiles are now of an average size of 7″ X 3.5″ X 0.5″; the earlier tiles were smaller in size.

The process followed in making the jhingati tile is similar to that used in making terracotta bricks.

Carefully chosen clay is kneaded properly with water. The potter uses a rectangular wooden mould that is similar to the brick mould, but is without a base. The wooden mould is placed on the ground, and on one side is fixed a round wooden stick that fits the inside length of the mould, is fixed. The potter throws a roll of the prepared clay into the mould; the excess clay is cut off with a knife. Another wooden mould is placed over the first mould; the potter beats on the upper mould with a wooden hammer. The upper mould is removed, and the lower mould gently inverted over the ground. The potter dips his fingers in water and presses them on one side of the tile, so as to make a slight depression; the tile is then detached and removed. It is placed on the ground for drying.

Besides the traditional jhingatis, another kind of large tile – heat-resistant – are traditionally made in the dimension 21″ X 7.5″ X 1.5″. The process followed is similar to the method of making jhingati tiles though these larger tiles are fired. Made of clay and sand – mixed and kneaded thoroughly before being placed into the mould – these tiles, when de-moulded, are dried and placed in piles and kept ready for firing. They are then given a wash with a solution of lancha clay (a ferrogenous clay with a high percentage of iron oxide), on their upper side. This coating makes the tiles red after firing. In this way 400-500 tiles can be made in 7-8 hours. The tiles are fired in the same way as terracotta bricks. Sometimes, the tiles are placed along with the bricks for firing.


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