The Blue Earth …gilded


The colourful state of Rajasthan has earned a quite a spot on the international tourist destination. Its rich legacy and culture seems like a sure shot draw for the international as well as the “desi traveller”. The many dimensional hues of its culture- folk dances, songs, its costumes, and its many handicrafts. Rajasthan has mutli-crore rupee handicraft industry. That’s what lures the average tourists to this state. The shiny, well crafted small fragile handicrafts, that are a major revenue earner and source of livelihood of this desert state.

The blue pottery industry of Jaipur is a major draw for many to take back as a souvenir. The gilded, perfectly shaped and finished pots and vases adorn many a tables at many a posh spaces. The blue pottery is a special pottery that owes its name to the attractive Persian blue dye that gives the pottery its unique colour. The blue pottery came to Rajasthan through Kashmir. Jaipur has had this industry for many years. Many small units operate in and around Jaipur. Making of one article goes through a labour intensive process. Every article be the huge flower vase or a small 2 X 2 tile, they all are made exclusively by hand, and take almost twenty days to be made. Also the colours that are used are not the ones that we see. They get oxidized in the furnace, and that gives the shiny glazed look.

Every piece of pottery is untouched by machines. Everything right from kneading the dough, to getting it to the exact shape, and then hand painting it, to the drying and finally to be baked in the kiln. All of this is a strenuous process that involves high levels of skill and immense patience. And in spite of the long process the returns are sometimes not that high.

Mahesh has been working for the past 11 years at the pottery centre. He’s 29. For every batch of 200 tiles that he places in the kiln to be baked he will retrieve perhaps only 150. And that goes for all the other articles as well. On top of that after all the hard work that he and the other workmen at the unit put in , they get a measly pay of 4000rs per month, which might well the cost of one blue pottery vase in any of the classy showrooms selling the wares.

So the next time you see the gilded vase, or get your house decorated with blue tiles, remember the extensive hard work that went into it, and how tough it was to get the perfect shine .

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~ by ektaamalik on January 21, 2010.

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