Craft in Architecture

Architectural, Interior Crafts, Clay, Terracotta, Pottery

Craft in Architecture: Terracotta Teliya Bricks and Paving Tiles

These special kind of bricks and paving tiles are called chikan appa, implying that they are made of oil. Although no oil is actually used in their making, their smooth and glossy surface appears to have a coat of oil. Specimens of these teliya (tel = oil) bricks and paving tiles – with their characteristic red, smooth, and shiny surfaces still intact – can still be seen in old temples, houses, and courtyards.

The potter wets the wooden mould by dipping it in water, sprinkles some dry pancha clay into the interior of the wet mould, and throws a lump of clay into it. Excess clay is cut off by means of iron knife or a wire. The potter lifts the mould and the tile drops on to the ground automatically. When the tile is sufficiently dry, it is smoothened by rubbing and beating with a small wooden hammer.

When the tiles are hard enough, they are piled up for firing. Before they are fired, they are given a wash of lancha clay (a ferrogenous clay with a high percentage of iron oxide) on the upper side. This wash makes the bricks red.

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