Size- 2 liter capacity
The roots of Indian pottery lie deep in history, with evidence ranging from grey ware during the Iron Age to the black and red ware of the Indus Valley Civilization to the myriad pottery styles in medieval times to the present, all unique in its own way. In fact, much of what we have pieced together as our history is entangled with the evolution of pottery, telling us stories we couldn’t have otherwise fathomed. One such pottery making technique is the black pottery making-Kchu Lyrnai-undertaken in the Jaintia Hills. It is primarily used to cook traditional rice based snacks such as Pu-maloi and Pu-tharo. These are similar in nature to the appams or puttu that is staple in the Kerala cuisine. The production is mainly done by the women of the two villages of Lyrnai and Tyrshang. The uniqueness of this terracotta pottery lies in its sourcing of raw materials, the production process and in how its gets its namesake shade.
The Making: From Sung valley clay to distinct pieces
The alluvial clay used for the pottery is specially sourced from the Sung valley once or twice in a year. The women source it to their village and it is stored under the earth, to be retrieved as and when required. A serpentine stone- green in color- is powdered and mixed to the clay using a wooden pounder, syrnai, to increase its durability and resistance to thermal shock. The mixture is then dried in the shade, polished and then shoved into the fire to bake. How the pottery gets its distinct black shade is from the bark of the Sohlia tree which is crushed and mixed in cold water to form the natural dye that coats the ware. What makes the entire process even more exceptional is that no chemicals are used and neither are any pottery wheels. From the initial mixing to the moulding to the open air firing to the dyeing, everything is done by the women using their hand and a few wooden implements. This results in unique pieces of pottery, no two being the same and they last for generations.
For the women from the two villages, the pottery production proves to be an additional source of income, the mainstay being agriculture and allied activities. They come together as an informal collective, pooling in resources to procure the clay.
Help us help the local women of Lyrnai and Tyrshang keep this wounderful unique craft alive