Panchmura terracotta craft become the symbol of Indian folk-art

Panchmura is a village, which is located at a distance about 40 km from Bishnupuri, Bishanupur  is a town under Bankura district(West Bengal). It is known for its Traditional Terracotta Horse and Mansha chali (the Snake Goddess), and other Handicrafts.

Bishanupur become the principle centre of culture and  art during the patronage of Malla king Veer Hambir and his successors Raja Raghunath Singha and Veer Singha. Most of the exquisite terracotta temples for which this town is famous were built during this period.


Originally Horses, elephants, Manasi Chali (the Snake Goddess) and Shashti (the guardian deity of children) were produced for ritualistic purpose.  People offered Horses and elephants as a token of their devotion to Dharma Thakur, Manasa chali and numerous other village deities. Local people promise to dedicate terracotta horses and elephants to the serpent deity on the fulfillment of a wish. Manasa Chali, terracotta facade of a shrine. The snake deity Manasa is worshipped for protection from snakebites.


One of the beliefs is that, these horse and elephants are considered as the carriers of village ancestral spirits. They believe that the ancestral spirits ride on the horses and elephants which are offered at the village shrine, to drive away the evil spirits from the village.

The Basic Raw Materials needed for making the Bankura horse and other similar crafts is mainly the TERRACOTTA clay, which is generally available in the region; otherwise the “Kumbhkars” (potters) get the clay from the other neighboring region of Bishnupur. The clay which they get mostly impure and the potters make the clay fit for the craft production by removing the dust- stones from it. The clay is generally ordered in bulk, and is kept outside of the house, and covered if there is any rain. The other Raw Materials which are mixed with CLAY are SAND, HAY and WATER. Generally the water they use either from the tube well or from the local pond. Sand and Grass are used to hold the clay together as a binder.

From mid April to mid June they stop their production due to extreme summer weather, which makes cracks on products. Before starting the production they worship lord shiva by making shivling on the wheel from the clay which they collect in bulk for the rest of year production.


Author: seemaawasthi

studied design at IICD (Indian Institute of Craft & Designs), Jaipur.while i am employed as a graphics designer in a IT company and my dream is to work independently to live my passion for CRAFT.

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