Exploring the Clay Craft Centers of Himachal Pradesh


Himachal Pradesh, a land of breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, is not only known for its natural beauty but also for its rich tradition of clay craft.  In this article, we will embark on a journey through the clay craft centers nestled in Himachal Pradesh, specifically in the regions of Kangra, Mandi, Kulu, Chamba, and Shimla, where a lineage of skilled artisans known as 'kumhars' has thrived for generations.

A Tradition of Clay Craft

The clay craft of Himachal Pradesh is a treasure trove of heritage, and the craftsmen here have honed their skills to create exquisite clay artifacts. The demand for earthenware vessels endures, and clay figures and vessels play an integral role in ritualistic occasions within the region. Let's delve into the key facets of this thriving tradition:

Clay Craft in Himachal Pradesh

Artisans and Their Creations

The local artisans, lovingly referred to as 'kumhars,' are skilled in crafting a wide range of clay items. These include:

Pots: Used for various purposes

Toys: Traditional clay toys cherished by locals

Money Banks: Clay banks with intricate designs

Pitchers, Bowls, Platters, and Cups: Essential kitchenware

Lamps and Flower Vases: Decorative items for homes

Storage Containers: Items like gidya, patri, and narele for storage

These clay items are often adorned with intricate white patterns using Golu clay, adding to their charm. Additionally, clay wares are used for storage, and the figurines of Hindu gods and goddesses are crafted with great skill and painted in vibrant shades for use in Himachal Pradesh's festivals.

Kangra: The Center of Clay Craft

Kangra stands out as the epicenter of clay craft in Himachal Pradesh. Here, artisans craft clay items using striking black and dark red colors. While the products primarily serve domestic purposes, one famous item from this region is the container used for setting curds.

Clay Craft and the Symphony of Mud Architecture

In Himachal Pradesh, the enchanting allure of mud architecture seamlessly intertwines with the landscape, where vertical and horizontal elements organically converge. Mud stairs, cupboards, and an array of architectural marvels emerge from floors and walls both indoors and outdoors, harmonizing with the environment. Hand-cut grey slate tiles grace the rooftops, doubling as surfaces for drying buffalo dung cakes, which adorn the landscape in neat lines, bearing the imprint of the women who meticulously shaped them.

Seasonal Work and Clay Collection

Pottery in Himachal Pradesh is a seasonal occupation, pausing during the winter months from mid-November to January and in the summer from mid-May to July. The clay used varies in color, with both red and yellow clay being collected twice a year.

Diverse Pottery Types

Himachal Pradesh boasts a variety of clay pots tailored to different needs:

  • Gharra: For water storage
  • Muggi: Used for carrying water to fields
  • Gharau: Ideal for boiling milk in various sizes
  • Muggru: Designed for carrying milk for sale
  • Kawradu and Dhialu: Special vessels for yogurt
  • Girriya: For ghee storage
  • Katori: Perfect for serving vegetables
  • Kanatu: Used for draining water from rice, then given to animals
  • Handi: Essential for cooking
  • Kangri: Charcoal burning heater for winter
  • Hooka and Chillum: For tobacco smoking
  • Goluk: Money box
  • Auli: Ritual pot for marriage, along with other ritual pots for various occasions

Cultural Significance

The art of pottery occupies a position of profound cultural significance in Himachal Pradesh. During the festival of Diwali, the potter's wheel becomes a canvas adorned with a paste meticulously crafted from rice flour. Subsequently, a puja is conducted, featuring offerings of flowers, incense, rice, and delectable sweets, underscoring the cultural reverence bestowed upon pottery.


In conclusion, the clay craft of Himachal Pradesh is a testament to the state's rustic nature. The clay wares created by these artisans beautifully mirror the contours and colors of the surrounding landscape, creating a harmonious visual experience. While the tradition faces challenges, it remains an integral part of Himachal Pradesh's cultural heritage.


Q.1 What are the key areas in Himachal Pradesh where clay craft centers are located?

A. Clay craft centers in Himachal Pradesh are primarily found in Kangra, Mandi, Kulu, Chamba, and Shimla, where generations of skilled artisans known as 'kumhars' reside.

Q.2 What types of clay items are crafted by the artisans in Himachal Pradesh?

A. The artisans in Himachal Pradesh create a wide range of clay items, including pots, toys, money banks, pitchers, bowls, platters, cups, lamps, flower vases, and storage containers. These items are often adorned with intricate white patterns using Golu clay.

Q.3 Is there a specific region in Himachal Pradesh known for its clay craft?

A. Yes, Kangra is considered the center of clay craft in Himachal Pradesh. Artisans in Kangra use black and dark red colors to craft clay items, with one of the famous items being containers used for setting curds.

Q.4 How does mud architecture relate to the clay craft in Himachal Pradesh?

A. Mud architecture is a prominent feature in Himachal Pradesh, with mud stairs, cupboards, and other elements seamlessly integrated into homes and courtyards. The clay crafts in the state reflect the surrounding landscape's contours and colors, creating a visually harmonious experience.

Q.5 Is the tradition of pottery in Himachal Pradesh facing any challenges?

A. Yes, the tradition of pottery in Himachal Pradesh is facing challenges as the younger generation is increasingly moving away from pottery in pursuit of more lucrative opportunities, posing a risk to the continuity of this traditional craft.

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