The name blue pottery comes from the eye-catching cobalt blue dye used to colour the pottery. Although many other colours are used, blue remains the prominent colour.
Jaipur blue pottery is glazed and fired over low temperatures. No clay is used and the “dough” for the pottery is prepared by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered flass, “Multani Mitti” or Fuller’s Earth, borax, gum and water. Unlike other pottery making techniques, all the ingredients used in blue pottery require the same temperature and need to be fired only once.
Even though the art of handmade blue pottery is widely recognised as a traditional craft of the city of Jaipur in the north-west of India, its origins are Turko-Persian. In its infancy in the 14th century, it was mainly used to manufacture tiles for decorating palaces, tombs and mosques in central Asia. This technique then made its way to India via the Mughals and ultimately to Jaipur in the early 19th century under the ruler Sawai Ram Singh II. Needless to say, Jaipur embraced this pottery art and made it truly its own.
The process of making handmade blue pottery is a long and time consuming one. Each item is shaped in moulds and painted by hand with oxide colours and then dipped in clear glaze. Once the items of blue pottery are made they cannot be reworked and are set in the kiln. Once firing is complete, the kiln is left to cool for three days!
Artisans skilled in this craft face a lot of challenges. The biggest one being from mass produced imitations, but efforts are under way to keep this art alive.
At Ethiqana, we obviously wanted to bring this historical art form to the public. So we partnered with Neelofar Singh, a qualified social worker who not only works with artisans to produce amazing pieces of home and personal accessories, but also advises, guides and helps them to improve their quality of life.