Blue Pottery is widely recognized as a traditional craft of Jaipur, though it is Turko-Persian in origin. The name 'blue pottery' comes from the eye-catching blue dye used to color the pottery.
Jaipur blue pottery, made out of Egyptian paste, is glazed and low-fired. No clay is used: the 'dough' for the pottery is prepared by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti (Fuller's Earth), borax, gum and water.Another source cites Katira Gond powder (a gum), and saaji (soda bicarbonate) as ingredients.
Some of this pottery is semi-transparent and mostly decorated with animal and bird motifs. Being fired at very low temperature makes them fragile. The range of items is primarily decorative, such as ashtrays, vases, coasters, small bowls and boxes for trinkets. The colour palette is restricted to blue derived from the cobalt oxide, green from the copper oxide and white, though other non-conventional colours, such as yellow and brown are sometimes included.
The use of blue glaze on pottery is an imported technique, first developed by Mongol artisans who combined Chinese glazing technology with Persian decorative arts. This technique travelled south to India with early Muslim potentates in the 14th century. During its infancy, it was used to make tiles to decorate mosques, tombs and palaces in Central Asia. Later, the Mughals began using them in India. Gradually the blue glaze technique grew beyond an architectural accessory to Kashmiri potters. From there, the technique traveled to the plains of Delhi and in the 17th century went to Jaipur.
Other accounts of the craft state that blue pottery came to Jaipur in the early 19th century under the ruler Sawai Ram Singh II(1835 – 1880). The Jaipur king had sent local artisans to Delhi to be trained in the craft. Some specimens of older ceramic work can be seen in the Rambagh Palace, where the fountains are lined with blue tiles. However, by the 1950s, blue pottery had all but vanished from Jaipur, when it was re-introduced through the efforts of the muralist and painter Kripal Singh Shekhawat, with the support of patrons such as Kamladevi Chattopadhaya and Rajmata Gayatri Devi.
Today, blue pottery is an industry that provides livelihood to many people in Jaipur. The traditional designs have been adapted, and now, apart from the usual urns, jars, pots and vases, you can find tea sets, cups and saucers, plates and glasses, jugs, ashtrays and napkin rings.