Jun 25

Blue Pottery – A Centuries Old Tradition

EST. Reading time : 5 minutes

Multan is known for its grandeur, its stature and its history. Two things that make Multan a truly a heartwarming and memorable place are the centuries-old tombs of saints that once made this place the Sufi devotional center of the region and the other is the oldest and most delicate craft said to have lived for centuries and more than a millennium i.e. Blue Pottery.

Many cultures took their own way of influence and used pottery as a way to depict their norms, values and cultures. The Chinese and the southeastern belt had the most influence as they crafted their items with precision and admiration for the art form to create wonder in its own self. As it goes, the Multani Blue pottery is most famous across the world because of the way it is made, and the beautiful patterns and floral paintings drawn upon them that contrast with nature and reflect the artisan creativity and imagination.

The beautiful images that we see upon pottery Items reflect how the artisan connects with nature. It is said that the Muslim rulers (Mughals) who came to this region as conquerors from the north brought those who knew some sort of art with them as workers. Conquerors of the lands were said to have great taste in Art and Music. They would capture artists in one region and would take them to the next for the sake of creating beautiful art forms around their belongings. Multan was one of the cities under the king’s rule, and it is said that the ruler of Delhi had built a magnificent tomb for himself at the highest place of Multan (Now the tomb of Hazrat Shah Rukhn e Alam – The nephew of Hazrat Bahuddin Zakaria and one of the most renowned Sufi Saints residing in the glorious city of the Multan). He died in the year 1335 on the 3rd of January and his tomb even after centuries hold the pinnacle of architectural and cultural excellence. These tombs, apart from the fact that they hold the true treasures of Islam are also a great representation of the Blue Kashikari Art form.

These tombs have been an epicentre of attention and a major source of attraction for architects and art enthusiasts alike. It is said that the artists oftentimes used these tombs and Sufi places as a source of motivation and inspiration. These naqashi paintings patterns have evolved over centuries and artists nowadays use contemporary colours for the formation as well. This has huge effects on the demand side of the products as more variation and designs and colour combinations attract a wider range of modern art enthusiasts and art decorators from across the globe.

The colour Blue of the famous blue pottery in itself holds great mysteries and is accustomed to myths. An artist who has been a seasoned trainer and won many medals for keeping the artform alive said that blue is a reflection of nature in itself. These individuals used this art form as a way to connect with nature and are believed to be very religious as well. They would pray in the name of the lord for hours and hours without food or drink and believed it a way to cleanse their souls from worldly matters. This specific Blue colour emerges two times each day. These two times were the prime focus of these artists as a way to connect with mother nature’s finest hour. The time before dawn and the time after dusk. The sky is at its finest and most beautiful at these two times of the day. As depicted in Islam, the time after the morning prayer and the time after the maghrib prayer.

Blue Pottery goes through many steps to be formed into the final beautiful product that is admired all across the world. The starting is the moulding of a specific product and then creating dyes for the Items. The material used is a mix of chemicals and the infamous Multani Mitti. Once the product is ready and has dried off, manual finishing is a technique used to make the surface of any item smooth and refined. This step is fast and usually doesn’t take up a lot of time and energy but is pivotal for the finalisation of the product. The finishing usually takes with a small clean sponge soaked in water. Once the water has dried off and the product is smooth, the Kashi artists start with their magic and create beautiful designs with cobalt paint. Once these artists are done with the paint job, these Items are dripped in Glazing and are placed for Heating once the glaze is absorbed.

These items are heated at a temperature of 1250 degrees Celsius and the items are kept thereafter preparation for 2 to 3 days. They are left for self-cooling and taken out once ready. Once these final stages are completed the items are taken out and the interesting thing is the colour the cobalt takes i.e. from being pitch black to beautiful blue colours of the sky. Traditional pottery items such as plates and bowls have now been pretty much replaced with more exquisite Items and showpieces for art collectors and enthusiasts.

Artists now create more contemporary products for decoration and even produce tiles for home décor and manufacturing. The art has transferred to contemporary products and has increased demand amongst the modern homes and therefore has served as a great way to preserve and sustain the artform. One can truly say that the Blue Pottery art form is rare and unique to this land and truly represents the culture, tradition and values of this region and its people.