Craft Unparalleled #4: Nizamabad Black Pottery
This is another article in series of unparalleled Indian crafts and their artists should be celebrated. This particular craft comes from a place Nizamabad in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh state of India. Black pottery of Nizamabad is a unique lustrous black pottery with intricate and beautiful silver carvings.
The pottery has it roots in Kutch(Gujarat) where it originated and traveled to Nizamabad during the Mughal period. The silver carvings are influenced by Bidri metal-work tradition of Hyderabad. It is a very good example of cross-fertilization of regional cultures and how one culture influenced the other.
It is a clay pottery and attains its color with a specific kiln firing process. Locally available fine-textured clay is used for this pottery. Clay moulds and wares are washed with powdered vegetable matter and rubbed with mustard oil. The lustrous black color is obtained via specific pottery firing technique, in a closed kiln with rice husk. They undergo another round of oil rub and kiln firing. The silver carvings are etched and filled with a silver powder made of Zinc and mercury. The pottery has utilitarian and aesthetic significance. It comes in various types of utilitarian wares and Surahi- a long-necked water pot, famous among these.
The silver on black gives it an elegant look and owing to black base surface silver color and geometric patterns are highlighted well. The pottery attained geographical indication for its production exclusive to its location i.e Nizamabad. Like the other previous crafts which I mentioned Nizamabad pottery is made by a small cluster of artisan, close to 400-500 families.
Black pottery is one among many handicrafts of India that is under vulnerability of extinction. At the beginning of this year, the artisan faced a shortage of clay. The paucity of clay is leading artisan to migrate in lieu of better employment opportunities clouding the future of this exquisite art. This is my effort to introduce the world to these crafts so that they could revive these vulnerable crafts of India. It is a must-have souvenir from India.