Skip to main content


Located along the western coast of India, Gujarat is the fifth-largest state of the country. The state has preserved its ancient history, culture and traditions. Recognised easily through its energy, colours and amiability, Gujarat is the ninth most populated state of India.The northwestern Gujarat has its own vernacular architecture which are developed throughout the ages and has been an inhabitants themselves with local materials, the traditional building are time tested, sustainable and sensitive to the microclimatic conditions and natural calamities, including earthquakes which the northwestern region is prone to.

One of the most exquisitely-sculpted temples in India, the Sun Temple in Modhera Gujarat is a prominent shrine dedicated to Hindu Sun God.

Pottery for Insulation

Pottery is a developed craft of kutch. To use clay items for construction was to find new ways of building methods. The clay plates and bowls are used for wall and roof insulation and pots as visual objects for design The local convex circular clay plates called tavdi are used for preparing rotis. These clay plates are clad on the external wall for insulation. Small holes are made in plates for ventilation and arranged in different designs and patterns. The triangular spaces between them are filled with small mirrors for reflection of heat. Thus, the entire surface of the wall is taken care of by heat insulation.

This wall cladding and insulation work proceeds fast as the surface coverage of each plate is about 25cm diameter.

Clay Bowls Cladded on Roof

The conical roof slab of houses is covered for insulation by clay bowls locally called as vatkas. These 15 cm diameter bowls are fixed in an inverted position on the roof surface forming a pattern in itself. The entire roof surface after laying the bowls acquires the terra-cotta rough textured surface. The clay bowls help to insulate the roof by trapping air inside them and decrease roof area under direct incident heat by casting shadows on the roof itself.

The bowls themselves are truncated cones and almost half roof surface area is always under shade.

Lippan Kaam

Lippan Kaam from the Rann of Kutch combines the subtlety of mud and clay with the vibrancy of mirrors and colours. A form of art seen commonly across rural parts of Gujarat, lippan translates to ‘dung’ or ‘clay’ in the local dialect –– signifying the primary material used. These are usually paired with mirrors to produce intricate designs that are later coloured. It is believed that lippan began with the intention of brightening homes that seemed morose and dull; both in appearance and morale.

Historically, lippan kaam was an activity for women. The womenfolk would gather together to prepare the dough while singing and laughing to decorate the insides of their home. 

The process begins with making a dough-like mixture of dung and clay which can be laid onto a flat surface such as walls. After a border, called kaam or kaamtane, is made, this dough is rolled out as desired and laid onto the pattern. Then, the addition of mirrors takes place. Placed in cohesive designs and complementary to the kaamtane, these mirrors provide a contrasting texture to that of the clay and create an unexpected yet beautiful interplay. Earlier, with the unavailability of pre-cut mirrors, a large mirror would be shattered using stones, and the pieces would then be collected to use in the lippan.

Lippan Art is the traditional mural art mainly attributed to the Rabari community, with no particular source of origin

The clay work increases the strength of the bhungas and also act as insulators. The air gaps between the clay keep the houses cool in summers and warm in winters. The aabhla, or the mirrors used in lippan reflect light from the lamps and make the interiors bright even with a single lit diya.

Leave a Reply