Origin: The secrets of the blue gaze are buried in the Mongolian era. When Chinese art played with Persian art, a new technique was born. Soon, Mughals made friends with blue gaze and introduced it to Kashmir. From Kashmir it moved on to leave its mark in Delhi and Rajasthan in the form of medieval architecture. During the reign of Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur, Blue Glazed Pottery won maximum popularity.
Legend has it, Maharaja of Jaipur, Ram Singh II attended a kite flying session. Here he witnessed two brothers from Achnera bring down the royal kites. Fascinated, he uncovered the secret – professional potters had coated their strings with the blue green glass, normally used for their pots. So impressed was the Maharaja with potters that he invited the brothers to teach this art at his new school.
Historical storehouses such as Rambagh Palace are home to specimens of blue pottery. Rudrapal, the first potter, brought pottery culture to India. Potters were known as Kumbhars and are believed to be created by Lord Shiva. Rajasthan Pottery has a long history with fragments found in Kalibanga of the Harrapan Civilization dating back to the 2500BC.
Present Day: By 1950’s, Jaipur had given up on its love affair with Blue Pottery. Muralist and painter Kripal Singh Shekhawat revived this delicate craft. This craft was made famous by Highness Gayatri Devi who promoted Blue Pottery. Today, a large percentage of artisans in Jaipur have dedicated their lives to Blue Pottery. Molela is a village near Udaipur which is famous in for making clay images of deities for ceremonial occasions. Alwar is known for its paper-thin pottery while Bikaners painted pottery is tinted with lac colours. The white and red clay items of Pokaran has geometric designs.
Most pieces are hand-painted with patterns like floral patterns, figures of animals and scenes from the lives of the royal families. Some of the pottery items are semi-transparent and most are decorated with motifs of animal and bird. The traditional patterns and motifs on the blue pottery are of Persian origins. These potteries also have deities like Goddess ‘Durga’ and Lord ‘Ganesh’.
Procedure: The process of making blue pottery is difficult and time-consuming. The pottery has a unique touch and appearance as it is made of specialised Egyptian paste and is glazed on low-fire.
This is an art form that stands apart from all other forms of pottery because of usage of a special mixture prepared by using quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth), borax, gum and water. The different type of items made beautifully are tiles, door knobs, pots, vases and plates.
The colours used in the pottery paint is derived from different chemicals like Blue colour from cobalt oxide, green from copper oxide. The raw materials are mixed together and a dough is made. After this dough is rolled and flattened to the form of a 4-5 mm thick ‘Chapatti’(pancake) which is then put into moulds with a mixture of fine ‘Bajri’(stones) and ‘Raakh’ (ash made from burnt wood). Then, the item is removed from the mould and is left to dry. The pottery item is then cleaned and shaped, is rubbed with Sandpaper to polish the surface.
It is then dipped in a mixture of quartz powder, powdered glass, edible flour (maida) and water and dried. Then the design is made and let to dry and is coated with Cobalt Oxide, gum and is coloured. These oxides are then mixed with edible gum and then ground on the stone and applied using a brush.
Then the product or item is given the final touch by coating of glaze. This glazing is done on the products by mixing powdered glass, borax, zinc oxide, potassium nitrate and Boric acid. Finally, the prepared products are glazed on low fire. This beautiful craft continues to be the result of the creative expression and skill of the craftsmen.
It is exported in United States of America, Australia, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates.
Bring home Blue Pottery: You can buy Blue pottery items in different markets of Jaipur, Bikaner and other famous parts of Rajasthan, and different state emporiums.