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The blue pottery of Jaipur: Introduction & History

Jaipur is home to many art forms. From Sanganeri print in clothes to different styles in jewelry, the artisans of Jaipur are famous for their craftsmanship around the world.

One such art form born in Jaipur is Blue pottery. Blue pottery is practiced in Jaipur since the 17th century. The magnificent technique of blue pottery, Turko-Persian in origin, reached East India with Turkish conquests in the 14th century and later flourished under Mughal patronage. The term "blue pottery" refers to the extensive use of cobalt blue dye to give the items a striking tint.

The absence of clay is what distinguishes blue pottery from traditional pottery. Quartz stone powder, powdered glass, borax, gum, Multani mitti (fuller's earth), and water are used to make the dough. In addition, sodium bicarbonate can be present in the combination. The finished product is meticulously glazed with Chinese glazing technology.

The journey of blue pottery

Aside from Turkey, the form was developed by Mongol painters in the 14th century and was later adopted by the Chinese, who drew inspiration from Persian buildings and artworks. Following its introduction to India by the Mughals, it was subsequently used in Delhi and became a favorite of Jaipur artisans during the 17th century.

In the early 19th century, Sawai Ram Singh sent local artisans to Delhi to be trained in this Indian craft that became a unique art form of Jaipur. The museum at Rambagh Palace displays a variety of ancient and ceramic works of blue pottery.

The blue pottery industry in Jaipur employs thousands of people. In addition to urns, jars, pots, and vases, traditional patterns have been updated with tea sets, cups and saucers, plates and glasses, jugs, ashtrays, and napkin rings.

The process of making blue pottery

The process of making blue pottery is complex and time-consuming. Molding dough is made by combining the five main ingredients mentioned above. 4-5 millimeter thick 'Chapattis' (pancakes) are then rolled out and placed in molds filled with fine 'Bajri' (stones) and 'Raakh' (rice).

Afterward, the mold is turned upside down and removed, and the dough is set aside to harden. After cleaning and shaping the pottery, the surface is polished with sandpaper. It is then dried after being immersed in a solution of quartz powder, powdered glass, edible flour (maida), and water. The dried, coated vessel is decorated with a solution of cobalt oxide and edible gum, and coloring is done using oxides of other metals. These oxides are combined with edible gum and crushed on the stone before being applied with a brush.

Blue Pottery can be purchased in Rajasthali and other stores on MI Road and Amber Road in Jaipur.

Jaipur's blue pottery has evolved significantly in terms of materials, styles, and forms. The raw materials used and the manufacturing processes have changed over the years. Previously, the glazed coating applied to pottery contained lead, but it is now mainly lead-free. In certain regions, diesel furnaces have replaced traditional wood or charcoal-fueled kilns. Fabric or abstract designs are increasingly used instead of classic floral and geometric motifs.

Despite these upheavals and changes, Jaipur's ancient, vibrant-blue, glazed ceramic culture remains as beautiful as ever.

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