The art of making blue glaze pottery came to Rajasthan via Kashmir, the Mughal emperors’ favourite retreat and, more importantly, their entry point into India.
The Art of Blue Pottery
The use of blue glaze on pottery made from Multani mitti, or Fuller’s earth, is essentially an imported technique, first
developed by enterprising Mongol artisans who combined Chinese glazing technology with Persian decorative arts. This technique travelled south to India with early Muslim potentates in the 14th century. During its infancy, it was strictly used to make tiles to decorate mosques, tombs and palaces in Central Asia.
The Art Gradually Flourished In India
Later, the Mughals began using them in India, in a bid to mimic their beloved structures from beyond the mountains in Samarkand.
Gradually the blue glaze technique broke free of its status as an architectural accessory, and Kashmiri potters took to it with a vengeance.
From there, the technique rolled down to the plains of Delhi and in the 17th century wound its way to Jaipur. The rulers of Jaipur were exceptionally partial to blue-glazed ware, and many a cool marble hall in Rambagh Palace has as its centrepiece a bubbling fountain lined with ravishing blue tiles. These tiles were also used extensively in the building of the splendid city
of Jaipur but surprisingly, they disappeared soon after.
The Foremost Art of Tile Making
The revival of tile-making began in the late 19th century, and Jaipur became the centre of a thriving new industry producing blueware. The traditional Persian designs have now been adapted to please a more sophisticated clientele. Apart from the predictable urns, jars, pots and vases, you’ll now find tea sets, cups and saucers, plates and glasses, jugs, ashtrays and even napkin rings.
You can spot blue pottery being made at Sanganer, not far from Jaipur, and also within the city at Kripal Kumbh, Shiva Marg.
The colour palette is restricted to blue derived from the oxide of cobalt, green from the oxide of copper and white, though other non-conventional colours such as yellow and brown have jumped into the fray too.