The New Indian Express
not everything blue and ceramic in the Netherlands is a Delft product. There
are clever copies everywhere, there is Holland pottery, the same beautiful blue
as Delft pottery. Those in the know will tell you to look for the Delfts Blauw
signage at the base of the pottery, which makes it clear that you are acquiring
a genuine piece of Holland’s famous craft.
Back to that
lurking thought, though: how startlingly similar the Delft blue was to Ming
blue, to Chinese pottery, in fact. Well,
that mystery is quickly cleared up if one takes the Delft tour; apart from seeing what goes into
the making of this world famous pottery, Delft’s China connection is also
Ironically, the city of Delft which is now synonymous with the renowned earthenware,
was once a thriving centre for breweries. Then a gunpowder facility went up in
smoke and fire, thus hastening the decline of breweries. Desperate, the people
turned to pottery, setting up kilns in the large premises of former breweries, some even retaining the old brewery
names, like The Three Bells and The Double Tankard!
venture took off instantly and the rich soon started to collect Delftware. Although the Dutch potters referred to their
earthenware as `porcelain, ` it was actually a cheaper version of the real Chinese
porcelain. This was because Delft Blue was not made from the typical porcelain
clay, but from a clay mixture covered with a tin glaze after it has come
out of the kiln. The use of marl, a type
of clay rich in calcium compounds, allowed the Dutch potters to refine their
technique and to make exquisite items. Ingeniously, the potters began to coat
their pots completely in white tin glaze instead of covering only the painting
surface, after which they coated it all with a clear ceramic glaze. This clear glaze gave depth to the fired surface and a smoothness
to the cobalt blues, ultimately creating something that closely resembled
porcelain. The Asian imageries were deftly
replaced with pastoral typically Dutch scenes, all painted entirely by hand, of
all of Europe was collecting and showcasing Delftware. Then, in a supreme act
of irony, Chinese potters started making
`delftware` but in porcelain, to export to Europe! Delft Blue reigned supreme for almost three centuries, and once upon a
time, there were 33 factories in Delft.
The only one remaining today is Royal Delft, which actually dates back
to the 17th century.
Blue, Majolica ware was the ceramic ware that caught everyone’s fancy. And by
the end of the 18th century, the popularity of Delftware had run its
course, and the new kid on the block was English pottery.
there’s some sort of an India connect, too. The Dutch East India Company had a lively trade with the East and
imported millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain in the early 17th century. Once that supply of imports came
to a standstill, though, Dutch potters started to make their own version.
And so it
was that China- inspired pottery once ruled the roost in Europe. Did anyone
murmur `A blue by any other name…?`
Labels: Amsterdam, Delftware, Travel