Terracotta has been an intricate part of the Indian sub-continent since time immemorial. The use of terracotta to make sculptures and pottery dates back to the pre-Harappan and Harappan era. Each region has its own characteristic and stylistic features for the use of terracotta in its craft, one of them being the Molela craft from Rajasthan.
The origin of the molela craft is unknown. However, various legends ascribe the craft to a blind potter who dreamt of Shri Devnarayan. The deity had asked the blind potter to make his image. Initially the potter was hesitant to comply owing to his blindness, however, he agreed with the wish of his god. The next morning, his eyesight was restored and people from his community started preparing and worshiping such votive plaques for wish fulfilment.
The most important deities depicted are Devnarayan and Nagaraja. Although there are many other deities depicted as well. Specific colours are used to identify different deities such as blue is used for kala bhairav and orange is used for gora bhairav.
The colours are prepared using natural stones and minerals found in the region.Specific colours are used to identify different deities such as blue is used for kala bhairav and orange is used for gora bhairav.
The colours are prepared using natural stones and minerals found in the region. The colours for molela are prepared from natural stone and mineral colours. Palewa is the clay slip which is used to prepare different colours when mixed with different stone and minerals. For example, red is prepared by mixing geru to the palewa and water mixture. Dawrigund, a vegetable gum is used as a binder. Jala, a locally available laquer coat is used for the shine instead of using commercial varnish since the votive plaques were traditionally religious in nature.