Molela Clay Tablets
These sculptures have a unique style in the form of narrative plaques, tiles and murals made from the mud dug out of the banks of the river Banas. The craftsmen refrain from using any material that is not organic. The traditional design is an image of the god Dharmaraja on a horse. The images are built up and refined through a combination of basic clay work techniques - squeezing, pinching and coiling on a flat clay slab.
One of the legends states that there was a blind potter who dreamt of Lord Dharmaraja, who asked him to dig clay at a particular place and make his image. The next morning, his sight was restored. He made the God’s image to fulfil his promise. Thus, the future generations took to this craft. Like most crafts, it has been passed down through generations, chiefly from father to sons, though it evolves with each generation. Typically, the women do the work of getting the clay ready while the men make the murtis (idols) and decorate them.
The deities whose images appear on Molela terracotta may be part of the mainstream Hindu pantheon (Chamunda, Kali, Durga, Ganesha) or more commonly, regional divinities whose cults are rooted in animistic belief systems (for example, Nagadeva) or in folk legends celebrating local heroes.