Longpi Pottery originates from the Indian state of Manipur. More specifically, it is created by the Tangkhul Naga tribe who live in Manipur. This form of pottery craft is believed to have its roots dating back all the way to the Neolithic period. It is an ancient craft that was originally used by the locals to create pots and pans, long before the use of metal kitchen utensils.
It is made from weather rock and serpentinite which is found abundantly in the banks of the river that runs through Longpi. Serpentinite is fire resistant, a helpful characteristic of the material for later on in the process when the pottery will enter the kiln for an extended amount of time.
After having collected the stones, they are carried in cane baskets which the artisans balance on their heads. Clay and powdered stone is used to create a fine paste which is then rolled by hand to create the desired shapes for the pottery. A potters wheel is also used as an aid, as well as various molds. Once the desired shape is achieved, the structure is put into a kiln and set on fire for six to eight hours until it reaches a temperature of 900-1200 degrees Celsius.
After being baked to the desired temperature, the pottery is taken out and is polished with local leaves or with beeswax which provides a smooth luster to the surface. The iconic black color is all natural! Longpi pottery doesn’t have any added pigments. The dark hue stems from the combination of the rocks and the firing in the kiln. Since there are a variety of rocks used in the process, you can notice hints of dark brown, rust or charcoal gray. This makes every piece truly one of a kind!