According to the local legend , Maharaja Sawai Ram II was watching his kite-master compete with other challengers when the thread of the imperial kite was cut by that of two brothers Churamani and Kaluram , who were potters and had coated their kite string with the blue-green glass like dust of their pottery. The Maharaja was impressed and gave them posts in the School of Art and settled them in the Goonga Mehra ki Gali in Gangori Bazaar ; it was thus that the blue pottery came to Jaipur.
Pottery is my first craft love . I picked it up as a hobby many years ago in the Delhi Blue Pottery trust and got addicted to it . It was a beautiful way to disconnect from the corporate and city madness . It took me weeks to get my first Diya right on the potter’s wheel. It took years for me to be able to make a really big pot on the wheel. Like any other craft it teaches you patience and you realize it will take you several years till you really think of mastering the craft.
If you are a pottery or a craft enthusiast don’t leave Jaipur or Rajasthan without soaking in the colors of beautiful blue pottery and bringing some pieces with you for your home.
The low temperature glaze pottery of Jaipur is accorded the name “blue pottery” due to its predominantly blue patterns . Wheel turning and moulding techniques are used in combination – the necks and bases and wheel turned , the body is shaped in a Plaster of Paris mould and the separate elements are joined.
The patterns largely florals rendered in the Persian style are painted on in metal oxide pigments ( mineral pigments) and the whole object is given a glass glaze . During the firing the pigments develop the characteristic brilliant shades of Turquoise blue , pale green , yellow and red brown and the milky glaze turns transparent .
Since the presence of water can cause the object to collapse during firing , blue pottery is dried at various stages during its production . The pottery is finished with a transparent glass glaze.
Generally , women perform the task of grinding the pigments while men undertake the throwing and moulding of the pottery forms, the painting and the firing .
While in Jaipur I met the illustrious Leela Bordia the founder and now heading Neerja International and Neerja Pottery . An extremely talented lady who motivated me at several levels . In 1980, she established Neerja International with four craftspeople, two men and two women. In 1981, she became founding secretary of the Jaipur Rotary Club. Leela Bordia completed another ceramics and pottery course, this time in Mexico. Back in Jaipur, the business continued to grow. In 1991, Leela Bordia won an award from the national organization Women Entrepreneurs and Executives (India). A Swiss exhibition of handicrafts from around the world visited Neerja International.
Leela Bordia continued to see her company succeed internationally and the standard of living of its workers improve. Work Practices Neerja International’s workers work in their home villages, in ways similar to those of their parents and grandparents. Their work is carried out on a contract basis. They deliver the finished products to central office. Craftspeople pay for the material they need through Neerja’s low-interest loans, paid off with their earnings from producing the Blue Pottery. Neerja International supports it’s workers in other ways as well. It provides assistance in organizing the life insurance, financial help for weddings (which can be a huge financial burden in traditional Indian culture) and support for widows and families. It also provides medical services to all workers.
Neerja Pottery would like to gift three blog readers who participate in the giveaway . Lucky winners will get Rs 1000 voucher each to buy the products of their choice on the website http://www.neerja.com
Here is how you can participate :
- Like Peacocks in the Rain Facebook page here
- Mention in the comments below what you like about Peacocks in the Rain blog
Giveaway closes on February 11th and winners will be chosen by a lucky draw.
Show us your love for Indian artisans and crafts and spread the love and take your time so soak in the beauty of blue pottery below
Pictures : Taken by me at Neerja Blue Pottery R&D workshop in Jaipur
Text : Jaipur Blue Pottery intro and process from Handmade in India by Ranjan & Ranjan. Neerja Blue Pottery intro from their website and personal interview.