My trip to Multan last year yielded extremely disappointing results as Ali and I searched for sources for Kashi or Blue Pottery. While every Pakistani has heard or seen of this art form, I true to my nature had decided to make my life a little difficult and order ‘customized’ designs for my dining table. While I got busy with some work I had actually gone to Multan for, Ali decided to take the responsibility of trying to locate an Authentic Kashi Artisan who would be able to deliver the designs and shapes we were interested in.

The origin of this art form dates back centuries all the way to the medieval period, however, anyone looking at a Kashi piece can clearly see the strong influence it takes from Persian and Turkish pottery forms. Some people also credit the Chinese for influencing this art form indirectly and trace the influence back to Kashgher, China. Over the years, Kashi has truly adopted a local identity and is an identity for Multan the world over.

While local and international agencies have shown interest in the preservation of this art form, our hunt remained futile primarily owing to the fact that the master artisans in this field continue to diminish given the lack of a infrastructure and therefore lack of opportunity to make a stable livelihood. Some of the older artisans who we came in contact told us how the younger generation was opting to go into other fields for this very reason and while they themselves continued on, the once meticulous art form was slowly giving way to more commercial ‘quick and dirty’ touristy version.

On the flip side, owing to this limited patronizing by the agencies as well as of the artists own initiatives, newer methods of pottery making have been introduced to Kashi and Gas Furnaces and better glazing techniques have been employed to create a sturdier, longer lasting pottery piece.

If you’re interested in actually looking at the production of Blue Pottery first hand, you have to do what Ali did… Visit the ‘Institute of Blue Pottery Development’ on Mumtazabad Road in Multan where you can the step by step production of these beautiful art pieces as they are passed on from the hands of one Master Artisan to another.

Another great initiative which I experienced first hand recently was Ahan a government organization aimed at promoting local artists which happens to have Kashi Artists on its panel and takes orders on their behalf while assuring a quality output.

When my customized Kashi Dinner Set actually becomes a reality, I would love to share pictures… In the meantime, here is a blue pottery collage (of the dishes I actually have managed to acquire) to keep you busy!

Written by Sadaf Zarrar
Founding Partner