Hand-made pottery is predominantly a woman's art in West Bengal. Women of Kumbhakar (potter) caste and of Patua caste generally make variety of dolls and toys. These hand made figures, small dolls and toys are done by pressing and moulding methods. In Bishnupur (Bankura), Chaurigacha - Katalia (Kandi - Murshidabad) and some other places in Midnapore and Bankura the most primitive method of hand-modeled pottery is still pursued almost exclusively by women.
In West Bengal big jars are usually prepared by men and comparatively small pots are made by women. Clay modeling by hand is widely practised by the women of Patidar Chitrakar (Painters) castes. In Bankura Midnapore, Birbhum and some areas of Howrah, Hooghly and Murshidabad districts, women of Kumbhakar and Patidar- Chitrakar are engaged in making hand - modeled pottery as part time occupation. The women of Sankhari (conchshell carvers) families in Bishnupur (Bankura) make clay figurines of mother-dolls at a particular time of the year, especially for ritual purposes. Two principle variants of West Bengal Pottery are Bankura-style and Krishnanagar-style.
Some important and interesting items are :-
Mangalghat is a kind of small vase which is commonly used all over Bengal in all kinds of rituals. In birth initiation and marriage ceremonies, in the festivals and rituals of all Gods and Goddesses these auspicious vases of various shapes and sizes are counted as essential requisites. These are mostly painted.
These are auspicious vase of the Goddess of wealth. There is fairly a large variety of Lakshmi-ghat in West Bengal, mostly done in pairs, one for Lakshmi and another for Ganesh. Of these, Tamluk Lakshmi - ghats are most decorative and beautiful. Lakshmi's face is shaped on the upper fringe of the vase, with sharply drawn eyes and crest and the trunk of Ganesh in the other vase is also fine. In Raghunathbari, the vases are placed like bowls on an earthen stand which looks like a wine-cup. The Jhargram type, is the simplest one with a little long neck marked with two dots for eyes. It has a look of tribal simplicity.
The most conspicuous type of Manasa ghat is found in Bankura and Garbeta area of Midnapur. Based on earthen jars turned upside down, the face of the serpant-Goddess, along with the attached snake-hoods, give the vase a peculiar shape and form. The number of snake-hoods varies from one, three, five, seven, to more than hundred arranged in ascending tiers according to the size of the vase.
One of the finest unique specimens of potter's craft is the Tulsimancha of Midnapore. Tulsimancha is generally a raised pedestal, either brick-built or earthen. The terracotta tub - like Tulsimancha with decorative motifs (mainly of Gods and Goddesses) are hardly found outside Midnapore.
The terracotta Tulsimanchas are rectangular, hexagonal or octagonal in shape and the average size varies from 3feet to 4feet in height and 1.5 to 2 feet in diameter. In each side of the pot, the images of Radha-Krishna and other Gods and Goddesses are separately fixed in medium relief. The curved borders of all sides are beautifully decorated. Both the upper and lower sides of the Mancha are obviously open and the lower side which is placed on the ground, is much wider that the upper side. It may be placed on the ground anywhere and filled with earth. Then a tulsi plant or any other small plant may be planted on it.