Terracotta is baked clay that has been used for a wide variety of reasons since ancient times. Terracotta is a natural substance and therefore, chemical and toxin-free. Terracotta is also free from carcinogenic substances which are fatal for flora and fauna. The use of terracotta can be traced back to the Indus valley civilization between 3300 BC and 1700 BC. Terracotta has been used by the Chinese for pottery since ancient times. It was also because of the inflow of attractive terracotta products from China that led to the decline of traditional terracotta artistry and pottery in India.
Terracotta has been used since ancient times for making pottery, utensils, sculptures and many other things. Later in civilization, the use of terracotta declined because of the invention of several cheaper substitutes.
Why did the use of terracotta decline?
- With the advancement in technology, there was the invention of many cheaper substitutes of terracotta and clay.
- With the invention of electric lights, the use of terracotta lamps began to decline. People stopped purchasing lamps for festivals and instead engaged in buying fancy electrical lights. As a result, small scale business and local handicrafts faced a setback.
- The invention of utensils made from cheaper and easy to handle substances made terracotta cookware face a huge setback. The use of non-stick cookware further declined the business of terracotta cookware because people did not understand the health hazards associated with non-stick cookware.
- When beautiful and cheaper materials came into the market, the use of terracotta and earthen cups became almost obsolete. Moreover, the cheaper materials were easier to handle and more long-lasting than terracotta and clay. Disposable cups have also led to the downfall of the market of clay cups. Tea shops found it easier to deal with disposable cups rather than with terracotta cups or glass cups. As a result, people chose to discard terracotta.
- Earlier, people used to use terracotta jars for keeping drinking water cool. Nowadays, people have refrigerators to instantly cool water. Although drinking water from terracotta jars is healthy, people neglected its use. Modernity hindered the use of traditional products despite their huge benefits.
- Moreover, potters did not know how to beautify and modernise the look of terracotta products. As a result, people were more inclined towards the more attractive products such as glass and other materials.
- With the fall in the terracotta and earthenware industries, potters hesitated in employing their next generation into this business.
How did terracotta revive in modern times?
- Slowly, human beings began to realise that though the articles they were using were cheap, they were not natural like terracotta.
- The cheaper substitutes were carcinogenic and toxic. They were harmful to the environment and were leading to global warming. The disposable items were not reusable and recyclable and were adding to environmental damage.
- Terracotta, though expensive in the short run, turned out to be cost-effective in the long run. It was not only healthy but if handled with a little care, were also long-lasting.
- Moreover, terracotta has no artificial components and is BPA free. Terracotta is reusable and recyclable and does not lead to environmental degradation. People started realising its value.
- Brands like Ellementry began to manufacture kitchenware and household items with terracotta, that too with the latest designs. People began to gain interest in these items because of their modern designs and health benefits. Ellementry aims at awakening our lost culture and art by reviving the use of terracotta and baked clay, among other materials
- Many other companies and small-scale industries began to produce terracotta pots, utensils and artefacts with a new zeal and enthusiasm.
- Terracotta jewellery is also in vogue nowadays. Terracotta itself has a vibrant orange colour, and artisans nowadays are using different colours and designs to make them more attractive.
Use of terracotta in modern times:
- Terracotta pottery: People are once again using terracotta pots for their plants and trees. They come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Some are simple, while others have patterns and designs on them. Plants grow better in terracotta pots because terracotta is a natural component.
- Terracotta utensils: Many environment-conscious brands like Ellementry are producing terracotta utensils which can be used for both cooking and storing. They manufacture plates, cups, serving bowls, jars, fruit bowls, pans, and many more utensils. They come in vibrant colours, shapes and sizes. Terracotta utensils are also ideal for baking. Cooking in terracotta cookware leads to slow cooking which adds a better taste to the food. Terracotta cookware is also in vogue because it requires less oil to cook food and does not impact the quality of food.
- Terracotta ornaments: Terracotta ornaments were once discarded as being old fashioned and monotonous. But with the upliftment of the handicrafts industry for the generation of employment, new designs are being incorporated into terracotta ornaments. Terracotta ornaments are now very much in fashion with its vibrant colours and details.
- Terracotta tiles: Reawakening lost culture and tradition is a new culture. Therefore, terracotta tiles are being brought back into fashion. Many houses and restaurants are now using terracotta tiles for the flooring to give that traditional look to their interiors. Moreover, terracotta has cooling properties which give a soothing environment in the hot summers.
- Terracotta furniture: What’s even more enchanting is the use of terracotta for manufacturing furniture, especially outdoor furniture like benches, chairs and tables. They are not only colourful but also environmentally friendly. They can even be reused and recycled when not in use.
Terracotta has regained the market with aware brands like Ellementry, who believe in bringing back the long-lost culture of India. Ellementry has terracotta kitchenware such as terracotta curd setter with a large and natural lid, terracotta sprouter with an elegant wooden lid, a terracotta baking dish which makes the bakery even more healthy, terracotta water jugs for making the water retain its natural temperature, and many other exquisite pieces, carefully curated for your taste, health and style. The above article gives us a picture of how the use of terracotta was once lost but how it has now revived again in modern times. So, why should you stay behind? Grab our aesthetic terracotta collection with a few clicks on our website.