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Anthropomorphic pottery with made-up histories


This was a course project for a two week long elective on anthropomorphism, expressed in clay. The course was taught by Shirley Bhatnagar and Sekhar Mukherji. We studied anthropomorphic traditions in the art of different cultures, with an especial focus on Indian folk and tribal art. The eyes of the water vessel above are inspired by the eyes on Jatra masks from Odisha. Studies of folk art and embroidery and applique work were also executed using terracotta water and ink. We went to Poshina to examine the unique terracotta horses made by the Garasia tribe.

I had a wonderful time playing with clay, creating these vessels, and making up stories for them. As you can see, I was heavily influenced by the richness and abstraction of Indian folk art.


Foot of Bhalunath

Date: c.a. 400-200 BCE

Culture: North Indian

Region: Chamba (India)

Material: Terracotta

Technique: Coiling and slab


Bears were once worshipped and raised by the Mandadiya community in the hills of Chamba (present-day Uttarakhand). Bhalunath is believed to have been the pet bear of Uttam, the erstwhile Mandadiya chief.


The bearclaw was probably once placed on a ledge behind a waterfall as a practical joke upon the unsuspecting.

Tapaknaak Water Jug

Date: ca. 700-900 CE

Culture: Indic

Region: Madhya Pradesh (India)

Material: Terracotta

Technique: Wheel and slab


Tapaknaak was a mythological demon. He was cursed by the bad-tempered sage Gaurav –  whose meditation was disturbed by Tapaknaak's loud sneezes – to have a perpetual cold. This made the demon a figure of fun for the people of central India.


It is said that he could never afterward effectively plunder and loot villages because he was always pausing to blow his nose.


My Eyes are Up Here


Concept for terracotta vase/water vessel

Terracotta water and ink on paper.

Explorations, ideas, and documentation from a visit to the Shreyas Museum in Ahmedabad and the Poshina trip are included in the gallery below.

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