Blue Pottery of Jaipur was famous for its hand painted pottery. With its roots in Iran, it is thought to have travelled to India during the reign of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in the 19th century and was adopted by the Jaipur King, Sawai Ram Singh. An Iranian potter at this time taught the art to the local kumbhars families. At the turn of the twentieth century, the local potters had been innovating and producing the typical Jaipur Blue, however low marketability and demand nearly saw the end of this craft around the middle of the 20th century.
Kripal Singh Shekhawat was born in a Rajput family from the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. In 1943 he joined Shantiniketan to study art and pottery. He settled in Jaipur and was given charge of the Blue pottery section of the Palace Museum by Maharani Gayatri Devi. While exploring and studying the development of this art in the museum, Kripal Singh found potters descended from these families and put together a team of skilled craftsmen to make this pottery. He revived the traditional recipe of the Jaipur blue glaze.
Although this pottery looked beautiful with its unique floral designs and alluring colour combinations, it could not be used as plates, mugs or containers for hot or cold beverages as it leaked and reacted with chemicals. Another handicap was the presence of lead in the glaze , which made it unsuitable for the utilitarian product market. A breakthrough in the technique of making this pottery, was made by the Ahmedabad-based Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, around the year 2000, allowing it to carry the ‘lead free tag’ for the International market. The traditional blue pottery of Jaipur would now be environment friendly, free from lead and cadmium, less porous, and with a higher fired body. There are around 30 units making pottery in and around Jaipur.
Jaipur is about two hundred and fifty kilometers from Delhi. It can be reached by road, train and air. The drive by road takes about five to six hours, including stops. It is best to stay overnight at Jaipur to be able to see the potteries.