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
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.
Manasa - Ghat (Bari)
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
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.