Figured Terracotta Roof-tile Making of Odisha

Clay, Terracotta, Pottery

Figured Terracotta Roof-tile Making of Odisha

Clay roof tiles are used in most parts of the country, except where strong winds and cyclones, and/or snow, are frequent. Good quality tiles, appropriately overlapped, are waterproof in ordinary climatic situations.

Clay tile production is an age-old cottage industry in several areas, specially rural zones, with potters making these tiles as part of their tradition repertoire of products: pots, storage and cooking vessels, images of deities, lamps, figurines, bird and animal shapes, and toys. Clay roof tiles often have a figure on each tile – birds, squirrels, monkeys and mice being the most common. This tradition originated in the need to scare away wild animals and these animals perched on tiles act somewhat in the nature of scarecrows.

The ‘country’ roof clay tiles made by the Sonepur potters are long half cylinders in shape.

  1. A hollow cylinder-shaped piece is created on the wheel.
  1. This cylindrical piece is raised to the required
  1. The raised cylindrical piece is then removed
    from the wheel using a thread.
  1. This cylindrical piece is then cut into half
    with a thread, creating two long semi-circular cylindrical tiles.
  1. The animal figures are comprised of different
    parts created separately on the wheel and put together.
  1. Different parts are put together.
  1. The detailing is
    done by hand – the legs and arms are attached.
  1. Basic round clay pieces are endowed with eyes,
    a nose, whiskers, a tail, paws etc.
  1. The animal figure is fixed to the top of the tile.
  1. The animal figure is fixed to the top of the tile.
  1. Other figures are often added.
  1. The completed tile, ready for firing.
  1. Other figures made by the artisans.
  1. Completed tiles are allowed
    to dry and are then fired together.
  1. A fired tile.


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