Explained: Rajasthan’s world-famous Blue Pottery

‘Blue’ in the blue pottery comes from the extensive use of cobalt blue dye that gives the ceramic articles a stunning shade. 

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April 8, 2022

Where colours burst through the desert haze, where rustic tones of red, warm yellows and vibrant greens build a spectacular world - Rajasthan is a state internationally-acclaimed for crafts and creating the most opulent and timeless art pieces. From the unique blue pottery to marble and terracotta idols, from designed gesso purses, or meenakari jewellery, Rajasthani craftspersons excel in all. 

The famous blue pottery is also known as the Jaipur blue pottery as the craft gained popularity in the pink city under the reign of Sawai Ram Singh. ‘Blue’ in the blue pottery comes from the extensive use of cobalt blue dye that gives the ceramic articles a stunning shade. 

Origin of the art

The world-famous art of extravagant blue pottery came to Jaipur in the 17th Century from Persia and Afghanistan and it flourished during the Mughal reign. Apart from Turkey, the form was developed by Mongol artists in the 14th century. It was then transferred to the Chinese who were inspired by the Persians’ construction and artworks on mosques, palaces, and tombs which were constructed in various parts of Central Asia. When the Mughals came to India, the art was introduced to be used in various architectures, and later it was transferred to Jaipur artisans in the 17th century.  

What is the process?

Unlike traditional pottery, blue pottery does not use clay. In its process, the dough is made by mixing six main ingredients- quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Katira Gond powder, fuller’s earth, Saaji, and water. And the slight bluish-greenish colour is obtained by mixing crude copper oxide with salt or sugar in a furnace.  

Once the dough is made, it is flattened on a wooden tool called ‘thepai’. The flattened dough is then placed into moulds to make the desired shapes. To make bigger pieces, several moulds are stuck together using clay and water and then the dough is placed into these moulds. Craftspersons prefer the sun-drying process instead of heating these articles in a kiln. 

Once dry, the hardened articles are rubbed and smoothened using sandpaper to make a perfect texture. The dried articles are then dipped in a quartz powder solution to ensure that the articles are not easily breakable. Followed by a second round of rubbing with sandpaper to give the article a smooth texture.

The next step is painting the articles with motifs inspired by flora and fauna, Mughal era arabesque patterns, birds and animals. Along with the paint, craftsmen use oxides and Ferro metals with a binding gum to ensure that the paint doesn’t wear off. Once painted and dried, these articles are then dipped in a glaze solution, made using borax, zinc oxide, boric acid and potassium nitrate. This composition is heated at a high temperature which is followed by its cooling down in cold water. 

What all products are made? 

The products made include plates, flower vases, soap dishes, surahis (a small pitcher), trays, coasters, fruit bowls, knobs, and glazed tiles with hand-painted floral designs. These products are known for their striking motifs and vibrant colours, to add a cultural vibe to your home.

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