Pottery, especially blue pottery and Rajasthani pottery always go together. When you amble across the many by-lanes of Jaipur and Sanganer, you’d never think twice before filling your bags with a booty containing these beauties!
Terracotta pottery dates back to the Indus Valley civilization and still rules the roost among handicrafts today! Unglazed red terracotta murals, jars, cups, pen-holders, urns, lamps, idols, camels, elephants etc are things to die for, for, these are pretty things that lend an ethnic touch to your interiors.
In Rajasthan, Alwar, terracotta, blue pottery and Kagzi pottery are famous. Bikaner is famous for pottery tainted with lac colors and is also embellished with gold. Nohar in Bikaner is renowned for terracotta wares. Wind-chimes made of clay and bells made of clay are in vogue. In Pokaran, geometric patterns are used as designs. Jaipur is famous for blue pottery in Rajasthan. Ahora and Jallore make terracotta horses. Molela is famous for plaques and figurines in terracotta.
Blue pottery was introduced to Rajasthan from Persia. Today, ground quartz stone is an addition to the mixture that goes into the making of pottery. All forms of blue, indigo, cobalt blue, green (oxide of copper), yellow, orange and brown along with white are used to design pretty floral motifs on vases and urns. Apart from unglazed pottery, in glazed pottery, semi-translucent materials are used.
Blue pottery of Jaipur, is made of Egyptian paste, is glazed and baked on low flame, without the use of clay. In fact, blue pottery in Jaipur is the only pottery in the world where clay is not used in the making of wares! Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth) is also used. Do visit Sanganer and the streets of Jaipur where wares made of blue pottery of Rajasthan are displayed for sale. They come in various shapes and sizes and have varied uses too. Ash-trays, cups, vases, pots, urns, coasters, wind-chimes, bells, trinkets, boxes, bowls, decorative plates, surahis, napkin-holders, soap-cases, glasses, pen-holders, tiles, hooks on tiles, et al will catch your fascination. Take your pick and these will serve even as exotic gifts for any occasion.
Traditionally blue was the color used, as this color was derived from cobalt oxide. But soon, other colors like lemon yellow etc began replacing the blue. Nevertheless, blue remains an all-time favorite. Usually, bright colors like yellow, green, orange etc are used on which floral motifs in bright colors are painted.
Pottery in Rajasthan was introduced in Jaipur in the early 19th century and Sawai Ram Singh was instrumental in encouraging this. He sent artisans from Rajasthan to Delhi to get trained in this art. Even today the Rambagh Palace houses some specimens of ceramic work. The water fountain in the Rambagh Palace is decorated with blue tiles which stand as testimony. By 1950’s blue pottery was a dying art in Jaipur, but was revived by the muralist and painter Kripal Singh Shekhawat, under the patronage of Rajmata Gayatri Devi. Within Jaipur in Kripal Kumbh and Shiv marg, you will find an array of blue pottery wares.
You’d be surprised to know that the impervious surface makes it hygienic compared to other earthenware. As you watch artisans paint dainty motifs, it’s interesting to know that brushes are made of squirrel’s hair