Evolution of History of pottery
Pottery-making is one of the most ancient art forms, as evidenced by Paleolithic and Neolithic archeological excavations. An examination of the history on pottery reveals the colorful vicissitudes in human evolution.
The oldest known samples of pottery from the Jomon period in Japanese history have been carbon-dated to around the 11th millennium BC. In Europe, burnt clay was known in the late Palaeolithic period, and was used for human and animal figurines.
In lands that now comprise Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey, the earliest finds of clay pots (black burnished ware) date from Neolithic times, around the 8th millennium BC. Before that, clay had been used to make statuettes of humans and animals that were sometimes burned as well.
Potters were working in Iran by about 5500 BC, and earthenware was probably being produced even earlier on the Iranian high plateau. Chinese potters had developed characteristic techniques by about 5000 BC. In America, many pre-Columbian Native American cultures developed highly artistic pottery traditions.
In short, pottery history is a mirror on human development and achievement.
Cross-Fertilization in the History of pottery Art
The cross-fertilization of art in pottery history is nothing short of spectacular. For example, pottery as practiced in India and Persia is deeply influenced by the Chinese art in this field. Chinese stoneware and porcelain is known to have reached India, Persia, and Arabia as early as 800 AD. Yet pottery making existed in other forms among Semitic nations in the Near East.
The white glaze used by the Islamic potters originated as a result of their desire to imitate the Chinese white porcelain. It is interesting to note that each of the three main periods of Islamic pottery was initiated by recurring waves of Chinese influence. T’ang white porcelain and stoneware inspired the first period from the ninth to the eleventh centuries. Sung white wares influenced the second period from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. The blue and white wares from the Ming period inspired the final period between the fifteenth and the nineteenth centuries.
And it was through the Arabs that the art traveled to Europe. The emergence of Majolica (Maiolica in Italian), the well-known Italian pottery style, resulted from the grafting of the Islamic ceramic tradition of tin-glazing onto the ancient traditions of native Italian pottery.
The potters of Baghdad exported their wares all across Northern Africa. Many Arab potters migrated to Morocco and eventually Moorish Spain, bringing with them their secret methods and formulae. Merchants based on the Majorca Island shipped so much of this pottery from Spain to Italy that it became forever associated with the island. This occurred early in the 15th century, when sophisticated Hispano-Moresque wares from Valencia were imitated by Italian potters.
The town of Faenza, one of the main Italian centers of Majolica production, later gave its name to faience — the French term for the ware.
Kashi: The origin of the word
Kashi, or Kasi, the name used for certain kinds of enameled pottery and tile-mosaic work, has chiefly been practiced in Persia and India over many centuries.
There are various possibilities for the origin of the word Kashi. It may have been immediately derived from Kashan, a town in Persia noted for its faience. It may also have come from the word kas, a Semitic word for glass. It is interesting to note that kanch and shisha, the two native names for glass common to Persia and India, seem to be modifications of the word kashi.
Development of Kashi poetry History
The Indian legend about Chinese potters settling in bygone days at Lahore and Hala still lingers in the Punjab and Sind provinces, and evidently traveled eastward from Persia with the Mughals. It now seems an established fact that a colony of Chinese ceramic experts migrated to Isfahan during the 16th century (probably at the invitation of Shah Abbas), and helped to revive the jaded pottery industry of that district.
In Persia — at Isfahan, Kashan, Meshed and Kerman — are buildings and ruins showing the old Kashi work. The Sheikh Lutfullah Mosque and the Chehel Sutun (Forty-Pillar Palace) in Isfahan, built during the reign of Shah Abbas II (circa 1600 AD) provide magnificent specimens of this art. The most important cities in Persia for the production of ceramics were Rayy, Sultanabad, and Kashan. Kashan is also noted for the production of beautifully inscribed tiles.
In South Asia (mostly Pakistan and India), the finest exam ples of kashi work are in the Punjab and Sind provinces. At Lahore, amongst many beautiful structures, the most notable are the mosque of Wazir Khan (circa 1634 AD) and the gateways of three famous pleasure gardens, the Shalamar Bagh (circa 1637 AD), the Gulabi Bagh (circa 1640 AD), and the Chauburji (circa 1665 AD). In Thatta, the Jamia Masjid, built by Shah Jahan (circa 1645 AD), is a splendid illustration; whilst in that vast cemetery of six square miles on the adjacent Malki plateau, are numerous tombs (circa 1570-1640 AD) with extraordinary Kashi ornamentation.
Multan, Jallundhur, Delhi, Shahdara, Lahore, Hyderabad (Sind), and Agra all possess excellent monuments of the best period, those erected during the reigns of Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir (circa 1556-1628 AD). Arguably, the art reached its pinnacle during the 16th and the 17th centuries, when the Mughal Dynasty was at its zenith.
Typical Artistic Expression in Kashi pottery
Conventional representations of foliage, flowers and fruit, intricate geometrical figures, interlacing arabesques, and decorative calligraphic inscriptions in Arabic and Persian constitute the ordinary Kashi designs.
Historically, the colors chiefly used have been cobalt blue, copper blue (turquoise color), lead-antimoniate yellow (mustard color), manganese purple, iron brown and tin white.
Mosaic panels in the Lahore Fort are described by J. L. Kipling as showing a gul-dasta, or foliated pattern of a branching tree, each leaf of which is a separate piece of pottery. From examination of figured tile-mosaic patterns, it would appear that, in some instances, the shaped tesserae had been cut out of enameled slabs or tiles after firing; in other examples to have been cut into shape before receiving their facing of colored enamel.
Besides just being lusterware, Kashi is known for intriguing decorations, which include animal motifs, floral patterns, and calligraphy.
The Multan Connection
One of the Indian subcontinent's oldest cities, Multan derives its name from an idol in the temple of the sun god, a shrine of the pre-Muslim period. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great (circa 326 BC), visited by the Chinese Buddhist scholar Hsüan-tsang (circa 641 AD), taken by the Arabs (in the Eighth Century), and captured by the Turkish conqueror Mahmud of Ghazna (circa 1005 AD) and by Timur (circa 1398 AD). In the 16th and 17th centuries, Multan was under Mughal control. In 1818, the city was conquered by Ranjit Singh, leader of the Sikhs. The British held it from 1848 until India and Pakistan achieved independence in 1947, and the city fell in the area allocated to Pakistan.
Because of its origin in Multan, the Kashi pottery of South Asia is sometimes also called Multani.
Acknowledgement: Some of the information in this writing has been borrowed from various sources such as Wikipedia and The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.