Crafts of Uttar Pradesh Ethnic Arts & Crafts

From Earth to Art: The Enduring Charm of Nizamabad Black Clay Pottery

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

ॐ श्री गणाधिपतये नमः

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The black clay pottery of Nizamabad in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, India is a unique type of clay pottery that is well-known for its distinctive dark, shiny body adorned with engraved silver patterns.

In recognition of its cultural and historical significance, it was granted a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in December 2015, which serves to protect and promote the craft by conferring exclusive naming rights to the geographic region of its origin.

The black clay pottery of Nizamabad is a testament to the skill and creativity of the artisans who have passed down their techniques through generations, making it an integral part of the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Pottery :

The pottery is crafted using locally sourced, fine-textured clay that is molded into various shapes and fired in kilns. Afterward, the clay wares are cleansed with vegetable matter powder and massaged with mustard oil.

Decorative grooves featuring floral and geometric patterns are etched into the pottery using sharp twigs. Rice husks are utilized to smoke-fire the pottery in enclosed kilns, imparting the distinctive, glossy black surface.

Next, the pottery is subjected to another round of kiln baking and is subsequently filled with a silvery amalgam of Zinc and Mercury, which highlights the grooves against the black background of the clay. Finally, the pottery is washed, polished, and sometimes coated with lacquer while still hot, resulting in a stunning shine.

This traditional method of pottery-making has been practiced for generations and is deeply ingrained in the local culture. The artisans who create these pieces have honed their craft over many years, using their expertise to produce functional and aesthetically pleasing pieces of art.

Despite the prevalence of modern, machine-made pottery, there is still a demand for handcrafted pottery that embodies the unique cultural identity of the region. Each piece tells a story and is a testament to the skill and dedication of the artisans who make them.

A diverse range of household and decorative items are crafted by skilled artisans, including vases, plates, pots, lamps, tea-pots, bowls, vessels, incense stick holders, and statues of Hindu religious figures.

One particularly popular item is the Surahi, a long-necked water pot that is both functional and visually striking. These handcrafted pieces are not only practical for daily use but also serve as beautiful adornments for homes and workplaces alike.

History :

The origin of this craft can be traced back to the Kutch region of Gujarat state, but during the Mughal rule of Aurangzeb, some potters from the region migrated to Nizamabad and brought their skills with them.

The artisans in Nizamabad have added their own unique touch to the craft by incorporating silver patterns inspired by Bidriware of Hyderabad, which uses silver wires to decorate pots. Today, around 200 families are involved in the craft in Nizamabad, and while the majority of their works are exported, their living conditions remain dismal.

In October 2013, the black clay pottery was submitted for a Geographical Indication (GI) tag with the support of NABARD of Lucknow and the Human Welfare Association of Varanasi. The GI tag was granted in December 2015, which gives the right to name the product to a specific geographic region of origin only.

Historians have taken note of the black clay pottery due to its resemblance to the Northern Black Polished Ware pottery of the urban Iron Age culture of the Indian Subcontinent, making it an important part of the region’s cultural heritage.

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Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

Ready to dive into the world of India's ageless beauty? Follow Mala on LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook and join her in spreading the magic of ancient India to the world.

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5 replies on “From Earth to Art: The Enduring Charm of Nizamabad Black Clay Pottery”

Hello Mala,
This is Shailja writing to document this craft for a fellowship project could you please help me with your contact details so that I could get in touch?

Hi Shailja,
That sounds like a fascinating project! Nizamabad black pottery is an intricate and traditional craft with a rich history. Here are some ideas and resources you might find helpful for your documentation:

Historical Background: Start with the history of Nizamabad black pottery, which is known for its dark, glossy finish achieved through a special smoking process. The pottery often features silver patterns that mimic Bidri work from Hyderabad. Understanding the origins and the evolution of this craft could provide a strong foundation for your project.

Craftsmanship Process: Documenting the step-by-step process of how Nizamabad pottery is made would be essential. This includes the preparation of clay, shaping techniques, designing, firing, and the unique smoking method that gives the pottery its black color. Interviews with artisans, capturing the process through photographs or videos can add depth to your study.

Artisan Interviews: Engaging directly with the artisans can provide insights into the personal and cultural significance of their work, challenges they face, and their aspirations. These personal stories can make your documentation more compelling and authentic.

Cultural Significance: Explore how this pottery is used in daily life and in cultural contexts. Understanding and presenting its role in local traditions and festivals could highlight its cultural importance.

Challenges and Preservation: Addressing the challenges faced by the artisans, such as economic difficulties, market competition, and the declining number of craftsmen can provide a realistic picture of the craft’s current status. Discussing efforts for the preservation and revitalization of Nizamabad pottery can also be an important part of your project.

Visual Documentation: Since visual appeal is key in crafts, high-quality photographs and videos showcasing the beauty and intricacies of the pottery are crucial. This visual documentation can greatly enhance the impact of your project.

Collaborations and Exhibitions: You might also consider how these artisans could collaborate with designers or be featured in exhibitions to increase visibility and appreciation for Nizamabad pottery.

Contacting the artisans:
Finding artisans of Nizamabad black pottery to interview can be a bit of a task since it’s a specialized craft. Here are some steps and resources you can use to connect with these artisans:

Local Craft Associations: Contacting local craft councils or associations in Uttar Pradesh, where Nizamabad is located, can be a great starting point. These organizations often have networks of artisans and can facilitate introductions.

Government Agencies: The Ministry of Textiles and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) in India often run programs supporting traditional crafts. They might have lists of active artisans or cooperatives working in the area of black pottery.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): NGOs focused on craft preservation and rural development may have connections with artisan communities. Organizations like Dastkar and Crafts Council of India can be helpful.

Local Workshops and Markets: Visiting Nizamabad or nearby markets where this pottery is sold can lead directly to artisans. Sometimes, attending local craft fairs and exhibitions is an effective way to meet artisans and see their work firsthand.

Social Media and Online Platforms: Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and websites dedicated to Indian crafts may feature Nizamabad pottery and its artisans. Engaging through these platforms can help establish initial contact.

Academic and Cultural Institutions: Universities and cultural institutions that focus on Indian arts and crafts might have research or contacts related to Nizamabad black pottery. Reaching out to them could provide leads on artisans.

Field Visits: If feasible, visiting Nizamabad directly would be the most effective way to meet multiple artisans, understand their environment, and establish a direct relationship. This hands-on approach often provides the most authentic insights and stories.

Each of these methods can provide a different entry point into the community of artisans. Combining several approaches might be necessary to fully integrate into their network and gain their trust for interviews.

Great article! I found the information shared here to be highly valuable and informative. The content you created caught my attention. Thank you for shedding light on this topic and encouraging discussions. I look forward to reading more engaging content from you in the future. Keep up the excellent work!. Also Read my informative content on

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