What is Longpi pottery?
Manipur, located in the north-eastern part of India is known for its rich ceramic heritage. A single village of 400 houses in the district Ukhrul of North - East Manipur, with perhaps just 200 artisans selling the craft, is the nerve center of Longpi earthenware. A unique feature of this craft is that it is crafted without a potter’s wheel using clay and black rock.
How is it made?
This pottery is made using a special rock known as Serpentine rock along with the Weathered rock. They are mixed in some fixed ratio to get a clay-like consistency using water. The dull-brown mixture is kneaded the entire day and flattened on a wooden board for the initial slab work. Each product of Longpi pottery uses nothing but natural materials and are totally handmade (all the way from moulding to firing), which makes each creation truly unique. Once the shaped clay has dried and is hard enough, it is taken to an open bonfire and heated for 5 to 7 hours at temperatures over 1200 degrees centigrade.
- Longpi Hamlei pots and pans can be used for direct cooking over gas stoves or firewood, and are microwave-safe as well.
- The contents of the pot continue to sizzle for a long time after it is taken off the heat, ensuring that the food continues to remain hot.
- The raw materials used in the pottery are completely natural and no chemicals are used, ensuring that food prepared in them does not have any adverse health effects.
Some important facts about Longpi
- Longpi pottery was originally referred to as “Loree hamlei” and was also called royal pottery because only the nobles could afford them.
- They need the help of men during the baking process as the firewood needs to be broken often
- They combine the rock powder with water in a ratio of 5:3 ,for strength and lightness. They do have special bamboo molds for the different shapes.
- They are easy to clean with a mild soap solution.
Distinguished by its surreal black glow and rustic matte finish, this Manipuri pottery carries great historical significance. Longpi vessels were exclusively used in royal rituals, religious ceremonies and meaningful gatherings. In mythology, the earthen pot is said to resemble a womb, carrying healing medicinal properties. In the past the privilege of owning black pottery pieces was restricted to the wealthier class of the society. Today, it adorns many homes that have plenty of room for art that is both exceptional, functional and eco-friendly.