||All along the land route from Persia to India-via Isfahan, Samarkhand, Kabul and Peshawar, the Islamic invaders left their trail. The Royal Mosque at Isfahan, the Gur-i-mir at Samarkhand
the Fort in Lahore and Chini ka Rauza in Agra stand still stand today, symbols of one of the world's most enduring cultures. All these monuments have a striking similarity, the profuse and intricate use of brilliant turquoise tiles. In time this colour came to be known as 'Persian Blue'.
|They were followed by the British in the early 17th century. Having taken the sea route, they were unable to observe the progression of 'Persian blue' from Central Asia to India, and they erroneously christened the blue pottery they saw 'Delhi Blue', a name that has remained till today.
'Delhi Blue Art Pottery' was begun many years ago - as far back as 1952, by Gurcharan Singh. In the early 1920s when Gurcharan Singh was studying ceramics in Japan he decided that commercial pottery was not for him and he opted instead for studio pottery. For three years after his return to India, Gurcharan was under the patronage of the Maharaja of Bundi, who financed his work and encouraged his search for the particular type of clay he needed. For a while he joined the Punjab government as its ceramics expert and it was only in 1952 that Gurcharan Singh began his own production unit in Delhi.
Khurja by that time had been forced into producing cheap, easily marketable items, and the famous blue pottery had been more or less eliminated except for the occasional piece. There was thus the danger of the blue glaze formula, a secret transmitted from father to son, dying out completely. Gurcharan Singh brought Abdullah, one of the direct descendants of the original emigrants, to Delhi along with a couple of others.
The showroom of the pottery had a beautifully arched ceiling, full of pots of all shapes and sizes clad in amazing glazes concocted by that wizard of glazing , Sardar Gurcharan Singh. About 40 per cent of what was produced at that time was tableware, for which there was a constant demand. Along with the pottery, Delhi Blue produced the most exquisite stoneware tiles and jaalis.
The ceramic tiles of splendid geometric design covered the floors of nearly all the rooms. These had been made in the factory of Sardar Ram Singh Kabli. Outside, under the majestic neem trees Gurcharan Singh and his son Mansimran taught students young and old, from children to diplomats in a laid-back and peaceful manner.
Delhi Blue Art Pottery became the best-known centre for studio potters in India. In 1986 unfortunately, the Government acquired the land surrounding the pottery, and the kilns had to be shut down.
It was a piece of Delhi, a piece of it’s history that should never have been lost.