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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Kashi Kari

Urdu Version

A centuries old craft of ceramics, Kashi Kari also known as blue pottery, is made in Multan as well as other parts of Pakistan.

Last Updated: 25 Aug. 2014

Introduction

Tomb in UchSharif
Tomb in Uch Sharif
(Alexandra & Wouter)

Kashi Kari is method of hand painting ceramic products, in particular tiles and pottery, also known as blue pottery. This is a craft that is esteemed universally for its superb beauty and intricate craftsmanship. A huge theme of the work is the use of blue and turquoise paint.

Kashi Kari is a centuries old craft. Some of the oldest pottery excavated from archeological sites has been dated to 900 AD. It is believed to have originated from Kashghar, China (thus the name) and influenced by Persian culture owing to the extensive use of blue color and certain motifs.

Technique

Making a piece of Kashi Kari entails following 20 processes. The first step entails making clay from fine-grained soil and water and removing any impurities that are left. A potter then takes a lump of moist clay and works with it at the wheel, rotating the wheel with his foot and molding the clay with his hands to bring it to the desired shape. The potter sets the molded clay to bake in a gas furnace at 900 C for 12 to 14 hours. After this, it is put to dry under the sun for two days until it hardens. Once the pot hardens, the skilled artisans paint and glaze it under high temperatures. Mainly, cobalt blue, turquoise, mustard, purple, brown and white are the colors used to paint the pots. Moreover, through a special technique, cobalt oxide and copper oxide are used to make the blue and green colors seen predominantly in Kashi Kari. The patterns used in Kashi Kari are geometrical figures, flowers, leaves and calligraphic inscriptions in Arabic, Sindhi, Persian and Urdu.

Works of Kashi Kari

The art of Kashi Kari has been used to decorate monuments across Pakistan, in many areas of South Punjab, Sindh (Hala, Nasarpur and Thatta) and even KPK (Dera Ismail Khan). It can be found on monuments such as Uch Sharif in Bahawalpur and the shrines of Sachal Sarmast and Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in Sindh. But the city that remains renowned for the craft of Kashi Kari is Multan.

Multan is home to the Sawi Mosque, which is not only the oldest mosque in the city, but also an exquisite example of Kasha Kari art. The oldest surviving and most famous work of Kashi Kari from Multan is from the mausoleum of Hazrat Bahaudddin Zakariya. Besides these, Multan has numerous mosques and shrines that feature Kashi Kari such as the Masjid Nawab Khan, Musa Pak Shaheed Mosque, Khuddaka Mosque, Yahya Nawab Mosque and Shahi Mosque as well as the shrines of Shah Rukne Alam, Shah Shams and Bibi Pak Daman.

Find out more

Books & Articles

Shirazi, S.A.J. “True Blue of Multan.” Pakistaniat. 5 Oct. 2007.

News

“Kashi Kari: Centuries old mosaic art on verge of extinction.” Express Tribune. 28 Oct. 2013.

“Kashi Kari: Centuries-old mosaic art survives.” Dawn. 28 Oct. 2013.

Maajid, Mudabbir. “The dying blue art of Pakistan.” Dawn. 30 Apr. 2014.

Shah, Danial. “Kashi Kari: Down to Earth.” Express Tribune. 1 June 2014.


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