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  • Bombay Ajanta Platter

    Bombay Ajanta Platter

    Bombay School of Art (Wonder Land)  Ajanta Cave fresco inspired red clay Platter showing Ravana battling with Lord Indra on elephant. Swans and foliage are in Ajanta style. Sindh style multicoloured  slips under transparent glaze: Bombay, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8716

  • Flower Vase

    Flower Vase

    White quartz clay vase depicting a Raja and Rani on either side with copper and cobalt blue designs on white ground under a transparent glaze, Jaipur School of Art, Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number N/381

  • Bikaner Jar

    Bikaner Jar

    Gold lacquer ware on pottery depicting parrots, Krishna with flute, Radha and peacocks, Bikaner, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8199

  • Jaipur Blue Pilgrim Flask

    Jaipur Blue Pilgrim Flask

    White quartz clay ‘Pilgrim Flask’ showing Narsimha Avatar. Neck is shaped like a pineapple. Cobalt blue,  copper blue and green shading on white ground under transparent glaze, Jaipur School of Art, Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8128

  • Jaipur Vase

    Jaipur Vase

    White quartz clay water bottle. Horizontal band   at body shows an armed horse rider chasing deer. Ornamentation are of cobalt blue on white ground under transparent glaze, Jaipur School of Art, Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9187

  • Bengal Bowl

    Bengal Bowl

    Burnished black ware bowl with two handles, Bengal, 19th century.

    Accession Number N/535

  • Bahawalpur Surahi

    Bahawalpur Surahi

    Kagazi  (Paper thin) double handled water bottle with triangular cut work on rim, Bahawalpur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8336

  • Bombay Ajanta Vase

    Bombay Ajanta Vase

    Bombay School of Art (Wonder Land) 19th century.

    Accession Number 8698

  • Bengal Bidri Vase

    Bengal Bidri Vase

    Bidri flower vase with metal and mercury inlay work, Bengal , 19th century.

    Accession Number N/467


  • Large Hala Sindh Vase

    Large Hala Sindh Vase

    Huge vase with separate stand having long vertical neck with flared mouth. Its stand is hallow with double mouldings and painted with petals. Hala Sindh, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8707

  • Flower Vase

    Flower Vase

    Flower vase with small and straight rim. It is painted with floral motifs.

    Accession Number N/425

  • Madras Vase

    Madras Vase

    Vase with two handles, long neck, mouth is broad and its lower portion is joint with belly which is flat and lower portion of the belly has straight sides narrowing towards pedestal base. Engraved ornamental medallions on the flat belly part , Madras, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9281

  • Jaipur Water Vessel

    Jaipur Water Vessel

    A large water vessel with a lid having a circular knob. Floral motifs are depicted on a turquoise background on the body of the water vessel and its lid with blue colour , Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9319

  • Jaipur Water Container

    Jaipur Water Container

    Water bottle (Surahi), designed like wheel with small neck and two handles. Belly is flat rectangular pedestal base. It is painted with blue and green foliage motifs on white ground , Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9357

  • Jaipur water Bottle

    Jaipur water Bottle

    Water bottle or Surahi of Bokhara shape in white, turquoise, blue and dark blue. The motifs on the neck are floral and on the globular belly, patterns resembling sea shells are depicted. Its handle is in the form of a leopard and on the other side. It has a small spout.

    Accession Number 9317

  • Burhanpur Teapot

     Burhanpur Teapot

    Tea pot with cover. It has dark brown and white coloured painting. Base is dark brown. Its cover is dome shaped ,Burhanpur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8262

  • Bombay Water Bottle

    Bombay Water Bottle

    Water bottle with lid, Ahmedabad- shaped with  Sindh patterns, two handles, pedestal base, several wreaths of flower round the ring shaped belly with a hole. Bombay, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8767

  • Bombay Pot (Chumbu)

    Bombay Pot (Chumbu)

    Pot with Sindh pattern is locally called chambu. This pot is painted with flowers in heart shaped compartments in green, white and red colours on dark brown background. Its neck and belly joint is having clay moulding , Bombay 19th century.

    Accession Number 8764

  • Bombay Carinated Vessel (Handi)

    Bombay Carinated Vessel (Handi)

    Handi is decorated with light green wreaths on a dark ground on its upper portion and geometrical motifs on the lower one. Sindh, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8757

  • Madras Vase

    Madras Vase

    Vase having middle portion round with wide-mouth. It is decorated with floral motifs and Gods and Goddesses , Madras, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8853

  • Bikaner Vase

    Bikaner Vase

    Vase with its main body decorated with floral motifs and shrubs in around medallion in golden yellow. Lacquer work on a black and red ground. Its neck is decorated with floral motifs, Bikaner, 19th century.

    Accession Number N/344/8087

  • Bikaner Spouted Vase

    Bikaner Spouted Vase

    Spouted pot (Badna), raised gold flowers on red ground. Floral and leaf designs are depicted , Bikaner, 19th century.

    Accession Number N/332

  • Jaipur Surahi

    Jaipur Surahi

    Water bottle (Surahi), amber shape. It has tapering upward neck, decorated with scenes the central column to showing a horse rider in dynamic movement while camel is gulping water on a river bank and trees are depicted between them, Jaipur, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9178

  • Water Bottle

    Water Bottle

    Water bottle (surahi)  with a long slender neck having zigzag patterns and geometrical motifs. It has a small base and wide mouth and a globular belly with fluted pattern decoration.

    Accession Number 9192

  • Bengal bidri Surahi

    Bengal bidri Surahi

    A surahi with silver incised work. Floral motifs are depicted on the belly and geometrical motifs are depicted on neck and near the mouth.  Bidri work , Bengal 19th century.

    Accession Number N/528

  • Flower Pot

    Flower Pot

    Flower vase having two handles with black incised work.

    Accession Number N/457

  • Peshawar Dish

    Peshawar Dish

    Salver with perforated border, green and white pottery, Peshawar, 19th century.

    Accession Number 8352

  • Jaipur Vase

    Jaipur Vase

    Pilgrim flask, flat bowled. Figure of Shiva and Narsingha (Incarnation of Vishnu), blue and white pottery, Jaipur 19th century.

    Accession Number 8128

  • Indergarh Laquer Vessel

    Indergarh Laquer Vessel

    A water vessel with globular belly, ring footed base, straight neck and slightly out turned rim. Neck and belly portion is painted with black colour on red background in geometrical pattern. It is closed from inner side with a perforated designed partition which might be used as strainer. Indergarh Laquer, 19th century.

    Accession Number 9354

Gallery Collection : Pottery


Finest 19th century collection of Indian pottery; unglazed traditional pottery from Bikaner, Bengal, Bhawalpur, Bulandshahr (Khurja), Hyderabad; glazed pottery from Bombay, Sindh, Multan, Delhi and range of vintage Jaipur Blue Pottery.

Albert Hall Museum - Pottery Collection

The Albert Hall Museum pottery collection is one of the finest 19th century collections in India which richly illustrates the range, vitality and complexity of this craft tradition.

Throughout India raw and fired clay has played a vital part in the daily life and ritual of our people. The primordial water pot for the gathering of the nectar of the gods, the sacred.

'Kumbha' and 'Kalasha' which mirrors the symbolic cosmic universe is used from rituals beginning with birth, marriage and death. The vessel making tradition goes back in time and history to the primordial Kalasa or pot that carried the nectar, Amrit of the gods, after the churning of the celestial ocean when the world was first formed. Another legend describes the making of the first pot required by the gods at the time of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. The potter was called to make a celestial Kalasha but he had no tools and materials. So Shiva gave his Sudarshana chakra for the potters wheel and his Jenau for the thread that cuts the pot off the wheel. Parvati rubbed the skin of her body and gave it as clay, while the celestial tortoise gave his shell as the scraper. 

The Albert Hall collection provides ample evidence for the first time that there was an indigenous range of low temperature glazed pottery being made in the subcontinent before the 20th century. The evidence of a type of faience ware, ie, a low temperature fired, self glazing clay, mainly copper blue and green, at cities of the Indus Valley civilization from 4500 B.C. in the form of bangles, small amulets and figurines shows familiarity with a glaze technique which was also used in very sophisticated ways in other early civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. The techniques of glazing on red clay with skilled craftsmen who were brought to India along with early Muslim dynasties from the 11th century A.D.

The presentation of the collection has been curatorially arranged and contextualized in order to vitalize this extraordinary group of pottery.


Unglazed Traditional Regional Pottery

A wide range of vessels for domestic use are made throughout India with regional differences in technique. Of special mention are the familiar vessels in popular use.

Water pots are the most important where water must be fetched from a river or a well, stored and cooled, then served for drinking ,cooking or other purposes. They have round bases with necks and flaring rims for ease in carrying on the head or hip. High-necked pots are for carrying on the hip as the four fingers of one hand must conveniently support the pot with its neck during transportation. Water pots with small neck are for carrying one above the other on the head.

There are special shapes for all kinds and types of cooking. These include Thalis or Khonchahs, Katora or Vati, Kulhads and spouted pots, Tutiya are used for drinking purposes and to feed young children.

Special care was given to the purification of terracotta. It is still believed that earthenware can easily become polluted due to its porosity and ability to absorb not only germs and dirt but also negative energy such as evil spirits, which cannot be washed away. Contamination through bodily fluids such as saliva is feared. Clay cups and bowls used for drinking tea, serving milk, sweets or curd are discarded and broken after a single use. Old pots were replaced regularly with new ones on special occasions, like an eclipse etc. These rules of ritual pollution result in continuous cycles of terracotta pots being discarded and replaced at festivals and family occasions like death etc. The gradual affordability of nonporous manufactured vessels in metal, glazed ceramic, plastic and glass which can be washed after use is gradually eroding the role of the village potter.

Clay is normally collected from lakes and river beds by the potter. This is then pounded by the women of the family into semi powder and the extraneous matter like stones and leaves is removed. The clay is mixed with water and kneaded by the rhythmic pounding of the feet. The potter usually works on the wheel which is made of stone or wood and placed in a pivot at floor level. It is turned by holding a stick with a socket in the rim. The pots are made on the wheel and cut off by a small string. If a water pot is to be made, the base is thrown thick and after some drying, the base is reworked using ash with the Thapa, paddle and Pindi, stone support. This makes the base globular and even in thickness to allow for more quantity of water to be held and cooled by surface contact. The pots are dried upside down and a red slip, made of fine natural earth rich in iron oxide, terra sigillata, is applied to the surface with a small soft cloth by the women. Often this is also burnished to add a shine to the surface by rubbing with a stone. White decoration is applied by a brush made of a stick with thread. After drying, the pots are placed in a simple open pit firing using agricultural waste and cow dung cakes as fuel.

Pottery displays in the room include :

  • Pattan Red and Black Ware
  • Indargarh Lacquer Ware, Chillums
  • Bikaner Gold Lacquer on Pottery
  • Bengal Carved Pottery

Pattan Red and Black Ware

This ware from Pattan in Gujarat has been described as similar to Roman Samian ware in look and texture. It is characterized by a highly burnished vitreous red slip surface with delicate sgraffito or scratched design ornamentation. The main idea was to have a slip that melted or sintered at a lower temperature than the body of the pot and so made a harder, less porous surface for vessels used with food and drink. This slip, commonly called Kabiz is made from the fine soil of rice fields. It is soaked for around two weeks in water, and the top layer is siphoned off leaving the sedimented slip which is burnished after application on the pot. Often this is polished with vegetable oil – mustard or sesame – after firing to impart a further lustre.

A reduction atmosphere is done in the kiln during firing to induce the black smoke colour of the ware, by closing the chimney mouths and fuel grate after the highest temperature has been reached so that smoke is produced which is not allowed to oxidize and so is absorbed by the clay itself, thereby changing the colour to black. Some designs are resist-painted with the red slip and painted with a fine brush in black iron oxide.

Pattan Black Ware is characterized for its dense black surface caused by reduction smoke firing in the kiln. They are heavily carved with intricate designs and ornate handles. There is a common lotus petal carved ring at the neck, rim and foot which combined with a delicate lotus bud knob and a finely modelled foot rim makes this ware outstanding for its technical elegance and contoured shape.

Indargarh Lacquerware

Lacquer skill became very highly developed in India as in the rest of Asia, and many highly decorated pieces are produced in both vessels, furniture and other objects like toys and boxes using clay and wood as the core material. The process of lacquer application in India is different from China and Japan. There are two types of lacquer: one is obtained from the Rhus tree and the other from an insect. In India the insect lac was first used from which Indians first extracted a red dye, later what was left of the insect was a grease that was used for lacquering objects. It is said that insect lac was introduced to India from Persia. Raw lacquer can be "coloured" by the addition of small amounts of iron oxides, giving red or black depending on the oxide. It provides a vivid waterproof finish to porous red clay pottery.


Chillams are clay pipes used extensively in Northern India for smoking opium, tobacco and other narcotics for long periods of time. This differs form the water-filtration system of the hookah that was originally developed in India just after its introduction at the Moghul court. Large, well-decorated pieces (Gargaras) are seldom used nowadays. Smaller, more portable Hookas are now used. Special tobacco blends are available for consumption in Gargaras and Hookas.

They are made on the wheel with cut work in the area where smoke is required to escape to allow for longer burning. Simple sgraffito decoration is done through, bands of coloured slip.

Bikaner Gold Lacquer work on Pottery

Lacquer was the most famous craft of Bikaner. It was traditionally only applied to wood, stone, glass and metal The technique involves the application of liquid clay on the surface of the wood, which is when dry, the outlines of a flower pattern was stencilled with a bag of powdered charcoal through perforated paper. Successive layers of liquid clay were then applied with small squirrel's hair brushes within the outlines of the pattern, each layer being allowed to dry before the next application until a raised surface, bringing out the stalks, leaves and petals with sufficient distinction had been produced. The whole surface was then fixed by a coat of paint and when this was dry, gold leaf was applied over all. The style of ornamentation is either floral or geometrical, influenced by available colour plates of the Taj Mahal marble work and very frequently the ground is broken up into medallions. The colours are very bright and limited. In the most typical work the design is in relief, in other cases the ware is merely painted. The beauty of the work is enhanced by the free use of gilding.

This technique was used to decorate the Bikaner screen at the Raj Newas Hall at the Indo Colonial Exhibition.  It was also used to decorate a large hall in the palace of the Maharaja. The craft was influenced by the intervention of Mrs Talbot, the wife of Major A C Talbot the Political Agent at Bikaner in the late 19th century, who gave the craftsmen white earthen vessels of different well known forms instead of the old sauce or beer bottles, metal cans, sheets of tin forming the backs of bazaar mirrors, bedstead legs, etc that they used to lacquer. The first specimens were all sold at the Jeypore Museum as soon as they used to arrive. Among the other articles produced were wooden cabinets, wooden plaques to serve as book covers, vases of all kinds in stoneware, clay, porcelain glass and leather as well as charpoy or bedstead legs, chairs, boxes, portions of ekkas pony carriages or baillies bullock carts.

Bengal Carved Pottery

Bengal's low lying landscape is sustained by its water channels and alluvial soil that is a rich source of clay. It is clay rather than stone which is the indigenous material of the area, clay has been the medium through which Bengali culture has expressed itself for thousands of years through both fired and unfired techniques. The wheel is used for most of the vessels. Unusual faceting of a lidded bowl is one of the prize objects in this group. Intricate raised tendril like modelling is also a special characteristic of this group showing skilled workmanship and a decorative tradition of modelling. Slip is applied and burnished to give a shiny and water proof surface after firing.

Pottery Collection Room II

Glazed and Unglazed Pottery

Painted and decorated pottery can be classified into glazed and unglazed ware. The glazed ware is normally made by a group of hereditary potters known as Kashigars and the unglazed ware is made by the Kumhars.

The Collection in Room II shows examples from both the groups from around the sub-continent.

The unglazed decorated ware is unusual in its deft use of material to achieve unique surface finishes and fine delicate workmanship as on Bengal Bidri from the East with its characteristic silver inlay and glossy black unglazed surface, Bahalwalpur Kagazi from  North Punjab with its apricot coloured mica glossed surface and intricate cutwork to the Pattan Kagazi from the West, known for its paper thin fragility and soft use of unusual colours from natural earths.

The glazed pottery examples are special in their distinct regional characteristics; however all use the low temperature glazes based on borax and lead on a red clay base. Each glazed pot is highly decorated with floral patterns and bands of creepers or geometrical cartouches with natural forms in slips and then put under a transparent glaze. There are no examples in this group of a high temperature glaze and clay. From the North, Khurja's speciality are white and blue raised painting on a red ground, and Jalandhar's is known for its green copper glaze, petal modelling and multicoloured tile work. Burhanpur in the Deccan was known for its white painted decoration on a dark red base.

The oldest glazed traditions in the subcontinent are from Hala in Sindh where the roots lie in glazed architectural tiles and cornices. The Bombay School of Art was the second Art School to begin training in pottery. It was inspired by the techniques and potters of Hala and introduced them at the School in the 1860's and also attempted to change, interpret and integrate it into its new aesthetic. The discovery of the Buddhist paintings in the caves at Ajanta and the detailed studies made of them by students and teachers of the school were reflected in the changed ornamentation on the pottery which moved from the floral to the figurative – from the abstract to the narrative.

Bengal Bidri Ware

The technique of silver inlay in metal called 'bidri' was started in the town of Bidar near Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. However, the clay tradition of silver inlay was a parallel style that evolved in Nizamabad and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh and in parts of Bengal. It is characterized by strong curvilinear contours, flowing handles and floral bands and medallions of inlay decoration.  A variety of objects are made in the bidri repertoire, Devari and Diya, used as lamps, Nadiya for storing curd, Meti for oils and pickles and Tastari is gifted at weddings. Domestic pots, oil lamps, chillums, incense holders and decorative objects are also made. The pots are thrown on the wheel and the bases are turned with a metal tool to make the foot rim and refine the profile which closely resembles the metal form.. The surface is burnished on the wheel with an agate stone and fine clay slip called Kabiz is used, which is a mixture of wheatfield clay, mango tree bark, bamboo leaves, mixed with soda and water. Mustard oil is applied and polished with a soft cloth. The designs are engraved with a pointed needle. The pots are placed within a specially made large clay vessel along with powdered cowdung. The lid of the vessel is sealed to trap the smoke, and after the firing, the pots are black in colour due to the reduction atmosphere created. The inlay work is carried out by the women of the family. Once the metal was silver but today it is a mixture of lead, zinc and mercury. Equal portions are pounded into a powder, mixed with a few drops of mercury and pressed into the engraved lines with the hand.

Bahawalpur Kagazi Ware

Some of these objects were not made for everyday use as evidenced by the interesting characteristic of a type of this ware : double – walled, and with a sealed mouth and perforated base.  They were possibly for display only and probably of a curiosity genre for European audiences. This ware was immensely popular in the International Exhibitions of the late 19th century.The pottery of the Punjab was renowned for its centres at Jalandhar, Jhajjar, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Rawalpindi etc. A speciality of the Gujranwala and Bahawalpur ware, known as paper pottery or Kagazi, is that it is made so fine that the object is not thicker than coarse paper. The pots are made on the wheel and are turned and perforated when half dry as well as the fluting which was done by the use of moulds, and the use of wooden stamps to imprint the surface of the clay. The pots are rubbed with an application of micaceous earth which gives a typical golden shine and yellow ochre. Pottery similar to this was also made at Aligarh.

Paatan Kagazi Painted Ware

The lightness of the ware is due to the special qualities of plasticity of the clays. Similar Kagazi white and gold painted and perforated ware is found at Alwar.

The colour is made by the application of Kabiz, or fine iron oxide soil mixed with sweet oil before firing. This can be toned from apricot to rich red. The salmon colour is produced by the application of natural red ochre mixed with the gum of the babul tree. The plum colour which is the favourite for chillums is made of Khariya Mitti mixed with a coloured earth or Hirmanji. The pinkish white is made from an earth called Parei Mitti which also gives a silvery appearance.

The techniques for the application of the gold painting, is similar to that of Amroha where before baking, the pot is covered with a coating of Kharya Mitti. For the application of the gold leaf the pattern is broadly marked in wax and the leaf put on over this. When the gold has worn away, it leaves a green marking.

Other objects made by this technique are water jugs, smoking pipes and bowls or chillums and Huqqas. In 1886 there were only 6 families of potters who still knew this technique and it was kept a secret.

Khurja Bulundshahr Ware

At Khurja, like in Chunar, pottery was introduced to glazing apparently by a potter called Bacha  a vessel maker or Kahar, who had learnt technique in  Bombay and brought it to Chunar around 1875. The shapes were European in design and influence. It was patronized by the then Collector Mr. Growse and the Nawab of Rampur.The original home of Khurja pottery is said to be Meerut or Bahadurgarh. The industry was introduced here from Multan around 1690 and was used to make architectural tiles and some domestic objects.

Jalandhar Ware

Late 19th century monographs on the pottery of Northern India praise the specimens of coloured and enamelled tilework of unusual excellence that were produced at Jalandhar by a potter named Muhammed Sharif. It was said that he was able to recreate all the colours and glazes of the old Mughal tilework but was apparently very secretive and died having no sons and did not pass on his secrets to anyone as he worked alone.

The work is characterized by a fluted and leaf modelled design on the underside of the bowls and platters, a copper green and white opaque tin/ lead glaze with brushwork in cobalt blue and manganese purple.

Mohammed Sharif was persuaded from time to time to send samples of his craft to various International Exhibitions such as in London in 1862 where he exhibited a copy of the old Mughal style mosaic tile work but as a complete painted work on a single or two tiles.

Burhanpur Ware

In the Central Provinces, Burhanpur in the Nimar district in Madhya Pradesh is renowned for its glazed pottery.  It is an ornamental glazed earthenware of a brown ground diversified with decorations in light yellow lines. The secret of glazing was confined to a single family by 1888 who kept the details of the process secret. Specimens of this style of pottery were sent for the first time to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in 1886.

The pottery is characterized by white heavily decorated floral and geometric ornamentation on a dark red ground under a transparent glaze. The forms show some European influence in the manner of their shape.

Hala Sindh Ware

Sindh, now a part of Pakistan, is the site of the civilisation and culture that blossomed over several millennia in the subcontinent and gave rise to the Indus Valley Civilization around 5000 BC. It was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC, and became part of the Persian province of Hindush until conquered by the Greeks and the Mauryans. From 711 AD, the area was slowly under control of the succeeding dynasties of Arabs who brought their culture and crafts from Persia to create a fusion of cultures and style.

Hala and Thatta are famous centres for their glazed red clay pottery and tiles called Kashi. The tiles are made in a simple wooden mold while the pots are made on the wheel with red clay. The design is traced onto the tile with the aid of charcoal powder and a perforated design sheet. Before painting, a white or red fine slip is applied to the surface. The painting is usually done first by outline with a cobalt based pigment and then the inner spaces of the design are filled with a colorant like copper oxide, chromium oxide, iron oxide, etc. There are simple two tone variations of the design, like the honey yellow and blue done with the application of a white slip painting without a cobalt outline as well. The red lead is fritted prior to grinding down to become the glossy transparent glaze that is characteristic of this style. The kiln is a simple wood fired updraught like a large Tandoor oven. The ware is placed on shelves in a circular manner with the centre space open for the draught and chimney flue.

Wonderland Pottery (Bombay School of Art)

An important outcome of the Great International Exhibition held in London at the Crystal Palace in 1851 was the establishment of Schools of Art in India. In Bombay, it was the endowment from the shipping merchant, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, in 1853, that enabled the setting up of the Bombay School of Art. The curriculum was on the lines of the system adopted by the Dept of Science and Art, South Kensington. The most famous Sculpture teacher was Lockwood Kipling, the father of Rudyard Kipling, who was born in Bombay, while his father was an employee of the School. The School functioned as individual artist ateliers, with the students being also apprentices on the private orders undertaken by the master.

George Terry, the Superintendent, was originally a drawing and metal engraving teacher. He soon became intrigued by Sindh pottery and by 1872 had started a pottery workshop in the School premises. He brought a traditional potter, Noor Mohammed, from Sind, to teach the students the processes of manufacture in the Sind style. The painted decoration was innovative, using new designs with the old colours. The painters were encouraged to choose illustrations from the Epics and Jatakas, and combine it with the floral motifs. Other styles of decoration which were successful were those taken from John Griffith's copies of the Buddhist frescoes at the Ajanta Caves. These floral and animal motifs were easily adapted to pottery, the most popular being the lotus and the swans. The fact that these pots were now signed at the back by the characteristic Om or Sri and often the name of the potter is significant in the social and cultural development and transition of craft to artform – from the unknown anonymous maker to the signed and acknowledged mark of the artist.

The pottery soon became known as the Wonderland Art Pottery or as Terryware and in 1875-76 it was supplied in large quantities to dealers in London such as Morris and Co, Liberty and Howell and James. It also obtained regular medals in a number of International Exhibitions. Later, Terry used pottery shapes from Doulton and Minton on the advice of South Kensington and the London dealers. He came under attack by George Birdwood for having diluted the essence of the Indian aesthetic. In 1882 after Terry retired, the Pottery came under the Bombay Government control and amalgamated into the Reay Art Workshops and later in 1909 the George Clark Studios and Laboratories.

Bombay School Of Art (Ajanta Themes)

The processes of manufacture are in the Sindh style. The painters were encouraged by the Bombay School of Art to choose themes from the epics and Jatakas. John Griffith’s copies of the Buddhist frescos at the Ajanta Caves were taken as the theme in several creations.

Pottery Collection Room – III

Glazed Pottery

The Indian subcontinent is renowned for its unglazed terracotta vessels, ritual objects, votive figures, architectural relief tiles, and sculptures but the myth that there never was a vibrant indigenous glazed tradition is disputed by the objects displayed in this Gallery of the Albert Hall Pottery Collection.

The Gallery displays outstanding examples from the traditional centres of glazed Kashi ware in North India. Rampur and  Delhi, being geographically close, use the idiom of floral blue and white painting on red clay as well as the white quartz clay. Multan and Peshawar being further to the west in the subcontinent show the influence of architectural ornamentation and a different stylistic application of low temperature glazes.

The earliest Art School in India was started at Madras, in which high fired white clay pottery was first introduced and developed in the country in the mid 19th century. The Jaipur School of Art revived, and introduced new styles and techniques in the indigenous low temperature glazed white quartz clay pottery. One feature which is easily read in the collection is the shift in ornamentation- the all-over floral patterns slowly begin to be interspersed with animal and figurative narrative panels. The epitome of this can be seen in the highly sophisticated Ajanta Cave paintings inspired pottery that was made at the Bombay School of Art which required tremendous technical expertise, control of materials and a vision of what is meant by new pottery design.

Jaipur School Of Art

In 1866, Dr. Hunter from the Madras School of Art, received an invitation to visit Sawai Ram Singh, the Maharajah of Jaipur to survey the art manufactures and advise on improvements.

Hunter found that the deposits of gypsum or sulphate of lime, about 15 miles out of Jaipur, would be of great use in the making of moulds and models. He also discovered that the old glazed tiles at Amber Fort and remnants of the art of coarse white glazed stoneware with blue pattern was still being practiced in the old city. Some of the glazed tiles were similar to those of the tombs of Golconda and Sind. Both resources and skills were indeed available.

Arrangements were made to send several teachers from Madras to teach pottery, modelling and taking casts, at the new School of Arts. Two famous students of the time were Luchman and his brother Ram Bux who also became teachers. The School of Arts was originally intended for the sons of the artisans, but in a few years after it opened, other families were also enrolling.

In 1876, a class for glazing pottery was begun. Two distinct kinds of pottery were made at the School, both fired white, but one was called stone and the other clay ware. The semi porcelainous stone pottery was introduced from Delhi. The ingredients and the process was quite different from a normal potters clay. The felspar was obtained from the hills near Jaipur and the marble came from Makrana on the Jodhpur border. Both the cobalt and copper oxides were found in Jaipur state itself. The clay ware was made from a white clay (possibly a china clay) from the Bochara Hills, close to Jaipur.

In Feb 1876, the School contributed many objects for the Exhibition of local and indigenous articles for the Prince of Wale's visit. Four large vases were made for the Viceroy and Governor General which fetched Rs 6000. The School was still not self supporting. Considerable improvement was recorded in the modelling and pottery class. The same system of working from nature, as in the drawing class, has been successfully introduced in the pottery department. The students were taught to model from natural objects placed before them. The white clay, found the previous year in the hills of Bochara had been used in the pottery and some of the busts made of it were found to be very superior. The pottery made in the School continued to demand a ready sale as the School had begun to make interesting looking glazed ware. Opendra Nath Sen the new principal recorded 'It is the object of the School to allow the pupils to follow their oriental taste and imagination and improve on the indigenous work of this place. This practice will go a great way to revive the old art which is peculiar to our country.

The glazed ware was proving most remunerative especially the glazed earthenware articles, the imitation fruit, the human figures, similar to those made in Lucknow, the white clay goblets etc.

At the Calcutta Exhibition of 1881-82 the Jeypore School of Arts won a silver medal. Khoda Bux, Ganesh, Sree Narain, Udai Ram were the names mentioned in the makers list. Not all the work was made in the white semi porcellanous clay, with blue and copper blue painting. Khoda Bux is listed as displaying a dark yellow Jamboo, a brown narrow necked jug, a black pot and an Abkhora with cover in a dark brown glaze. Ganesh and Sree Narain displayed among other white and blue vessels, a small dark yellow tumbler and a green Lota, along with a green patterned tile. Udairam was the most prolific and seemed to have been working only in the white and blue ware making pickle jars, Abkhoras and Surahis, vases and spittoons.

At the first Jeypore Exhibition of 1883 the Jeypore School of Art had a special pride of place at the display of pottery. At the Calcutta Exhibition of 1883, there was mention of the pottery teacher, Ram Baksh who also taught painting and drawing as well as jewellery design. The School won a number of certificates of merit for their pottery designs.

In October 1886 issue of the Journal of Indian Art devoted to the exhibits of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, Jeypore pottery, which was represented with plates, vases, water bottles, pierced tiles and painted panels was made by not only the students of the School but was now a flourishing industry in the city on account of the old students. Colour had been sparingly used like canary yellow, dark blue and brown. Most of the best examples still were painted with arabesque patterns or florals or with figures of animals.

The variety of designs is immense and in the early 1890's the potters preferred to cover their vessels with mythological and other figures which were sent to dealers in London.

The collection of Jaipur blue has been displayed according to following categories :-

(I) Animal figures (very popular among foreign tourists virtue of the time).

(ii) Depiction of palace architecture.

(iii) Pilgrims unique shaped water bottles.

(iv) Mythological themes.

(v) Influence of the Bombay School of Art.

(vi) Vessels of miscellaneous colours.

(vii)Large vessels.

The room also contains splendid examples of Bombay Wonderland pottery inspired by Ajanta, and pottery from Delhi, Rampur, Madras School, Multan and Peshawar.

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