A Familial Promise
“We are the 9th generation of this family. We continue to make blue pottery, a traditional business that has been passed down from our predecessors. The trade is our livelihood, but it is our willingness and dedication to nurture and spread this unique art than anything else that motivates us to pursue,” said Anil Doraya in a pensive manner, a recipient of the National Merit Certificate for his artisanal work and the one who runs the Jaipur Blue Pottery Centre.
Inside the center, you will find an assorted range of objects in different shapes and sizes—cups, wall plates, teapots, lamps, bowls, and vases—all assembled on an open shelf that surrounds the entire room. The items are usually green or blue in color or in combination. Occasionally, you will see colors like yellow, brown, white or pink finding its way to a perfect spot in those beautiful objects. I fell in love at first sight with the decorative wall plates in diverse shades of blue; Turquoise, Prussian, Azure, you name it. The blue dye used in the pottery, which gives the name Blue pottery, is produced from cobalt oxide.
A Dying Craftsmanship
A flight of stairs leads you to the first floor. Tiles, door knobs, trays lay on shelves, tables, and floor. The prices range from 250 INR for a small bowl to 1500 for a wall plate. Based on the intricacy of the artwork, the prices vary. For souvenirs and gifting, you will find plenty of options to choose from. Mr. Doraya says that the art of blue pottery is dwindling now. The future generation is indifferent and barely inclined to learn it. This is an art that requires time, patience and devotion; traits that are rare in today’s generation. He was 11 years old when he first got introduced to this craft. He is learning ever since.
This medieval art originated in Turkey and Persia. In India, the Mughals first began to use it in their architecture. Finding its way to the western part of India, under the patronage of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, the revival of art and craft took birth and rose to prominence. He sent local artists and craftsmen to Turkey and Iran to learn and employ the blue glaze technique into their work.
A Meditative Technique
Blue pottery contains quartz, mostly. Other raw materials include glass, fuller’s earth, rock salt, sodium bicarbonate (saaji), gum (gond), which are grounded and mixed to form a dough. The process involves casting, smoothening, filling colors, glazing, and firing at a low temperature. Fifty percent of the breakage happens during this time. Products that make it to the final stage are separated from the cracked ones, then cleansed and made ready to be sold.
It is not ceramic, the ones sold in the flea markets or roadside stalls. Blue pottery is the only pottery in the world that doesn’t use clay. Floral motifs, arabesque patterns, animals, portraits of maharajas and maharanis are painted on these pottery objects. While chatting with Mr. Doraya, we discovered that his center also provides training to those who are willing to invest their time and effort into the art of blue pottery. His motive is pure—to propagate and prevent this beautiful art from dying.
We ended up buying a few pieces from his shop. In between our conversations about his art and history, he presented a souvenir—a piece of tile embellished with floral motif and Ganesh; the Hindu deity who removes all obstacles. The symbolic token felt like a blessing, a benediction to all the endeavors we have undertaken and to all those in the future. We bid him goodbye with a promise to come back once again and this time to learn the real process behind the making of this exquisite Blue Pottery.
Jaipur Blue Pottery Art Centre
Near Jain Mandir, Amer Road
Anil Doraya +91-9414261880, Durgesh Doraya +91-9636079607