"Learning blue pottery started as a hobby. Before I knew it, I had made it my business."
Sanjay Prajapati from Jaipur, Rajasthan took over the business of blue pottery from his father when he realized he was ready to make a profession out of his hobby. Sanjay’s father, Lalchand, was a master craftsman in blue pottery and was recognized by the Government of India for his expertise. Sanjay learned pottery and ceramic painting from his father who started Pink City Kala Udyog almost 30 years ago. His passion for blue pottery and his father’s deteriorating health resulted in Sanjay taking over the family business.
Before the 1960s, blue pottery was commissioned only by the royal family of Rajasthan. Sanjay’s community name Kumbhar identifies him as belonging to a particular group of people that was taught blue pottery from patrons of the royal family. Today while many others apart from the Kumbhars are involved in making blue pottery, it is still with a sense of pride that Kumbhars engage in their traditional profession.
Sanjay is a skilled designer, under whose auspices six other artisans have learned this art and now work with him. Sanjay also teaches design and ceramic craft at the Central Government Institute for research and training in Jaipur. While blue pottery has received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag to preserve the art, Sanjay admits that artisans are moving away from this technique . Blue pottery was practiced mostly by villagers, some of whom became wealthy by selling their land to urban developers. As a result, they are shifting their focus to less labour-intensive professions.
Sanjay has the uphill task of managing his business within a rapidly changing environment. Furthermore, a lot of his orders come from local vendors who do not give him an advance to procure raw materials. As a result, Sanjay resorts to moneylenders who charge anywhere between 50-100% interest on the loans they extend. With help from MyMela, Sanjay will be able to procure raw materials for his orders without incurring the burden of paying interest as well.
Sanjay lives with his wife and children in the same house from which he runs his business. While he wants his children to pursue their own dreams, he admits his daughter is good at painting and says rather wistfully, “I wouldn’t mind if she got into this line in the future.”