The History Of Terracotta In India And How You Can Use It In Your Home


One home trend that seems to be ongoing is terracotta. Suitable for both indoors and outdoors, this warm rusty orange is everywhere.

But aside from looking great, it’s worth delving into the history of terracotta and why it’s proven to be so well loved in India in both the past and the present.

Terracotta throughout history in India

Terracotta has been used in India for centuries. Traditionally, it is seen as a mystical material due to its combination of four of the five vital elements – air, earth, fire and water.

It has been a mainstay of Indian construction and culture since the Indus Valley Civilisation, which existed between 3300 and 1700 BC. Many ancient terracotta artefacts have been found in India, often depicting deities.

Due to its extensive background, it’s no wonder India has some prominence when it comes to terracotta. Most famously, the largest terracotta sculpture ever made was the Ayanaar horse – created in Tamil Nadu.

Today, terracotta is still used in pottery and art for the home and beyond.  Areas such as Rajasthan and Gujarat are famous for their white painted terracotta jars, while Madhya Pradesh is known for embellished terracotta rooftops.

Why use terracotta today?


In addition to being a mainstay throughout Indian history, terracotta is a great element to use in its own right. For one thing, it is surprisingly versatile and can complement a wide range of interiors. In a more contemporary setting, the colour can be used to break up and add warmth to modern, monochromatic themes. In a more traditional home, it can look great in the form of ornaments and embellishments.

You’ll also find that terracotta comes across as warm and welcoming in your home, which is an important part of Indian culture both then and now.

Terracotta as a colour

f you’re simply in love with the colour itself, your job of integrating it into your home will be easy!

You could choose terracotta coloured textiles, switch up your carpets or even paint your walls in this warm, inviting shade.

As many designers (and paint companies) will be familiar with PANTONE colours, here are a few that perfectly capture that signature terracotta hue:

  • PANTONE 16 – 1526 TPX Terra Cotta– This is a traditional terracotta shade.
  • PANTONE 17 – 1540 TPX Apricot Brandy– This shade is darker than the Terra Cotta shade listed above. However, its tone is very similar.
  • PANTONE 16 – 1720 TPX Strawberry Ice– A more pink toned shade that reflects the rosier tones sometimes found in terracotta pottery.
  • PANTONE 14 – 1313 TPX Rose Cloud– A warm beige with pink undertones that’s ideal for a paler look of terracotta.
  • PANTONE 18 – 1438 TPX Marsala – Colour of the Year 2015– A darker shade from the rusty red family, reminiscent of terracotta tones and known for its popularity as Colour of the Year.

Anywhere with customisable paint options will be able to match these colours perfectly!

In addition to terracotta coloured paint, you could also consider other items, features or materials in the same colour family.

For example, exposed brick is a trending interior look, and often resembles a warm, terracotta tone. Get creative; you’ll be surprised at how often you see the colour pop up!

Traditional Terracotta Pottery


One of the most iconic terracotta items is the traditional terracotta pot, usually used to house plants or small trees. They come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes and can be either plain or embellished with ornate details.

The style you choose will be completely up to you as you choose a piece that suits your style. Although they are usually marketed as outdoor pots and planters, smaller pieces can make a strong statement inside the home too.

Terracotta Ornaments

Although they are sometimes harder to find and are often more expensive due to the significant amount of additional work that goes into making them, you can also purchase terracotta ornaments.

From small patterned decorative plates to unique ornamental statues, this is yet another way to add terracotta to your interior.

Terracotta Crockery

If you prefer to add things to your home that you can use rather than just look at, consider terracotta crockery. Bowls, plates and dishes can all be made from terracotta – in fact, they’re known for their heat resistance, making them oven safe.

When in use (or even displayed permanently as serving dishes), they add an authentic, rustic feel to your kitchen or dining room.

Terracotta Tiles

While stone and linoleum may be the most popular choices, terracotta makes a great choice for flooring. They are the perfect way to create a home that encapsulates both old and new styles, as well as adding a splash of colour to your interior.

There’s Even Terracotta Furniture

Sometimes, you’ll even find furniture made from terracotta – especially furniture that’s designed for outdoor use. These usually include benches and small tables, although more complex pieces can be found from time to time.

Where can you buy terracotta?

Being such an important part of India, it is relatively easy to find terracotta across the nation, as long as you know where to look!

Take a look at some local craft stores for smaller pieces, as well as larger companies that may deal in flooring and tiles. Another option is to take a look at a garden centre, as they are likely to have terracotta pots for sale.

If you really want to try something new, you could even try making your own terracotta pottery at home with a basic kit!

If you’ve been inspired by all the ways you can feature terracotta in your home, it may be something to consider for your next redesign – or even as a simple new addition to your existing interior theme.

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