Hamadan Blue Pottery and The Secret Glaze

The secret is in the glaze.  You can’t find this glaze anywhere else in the world.  It can only be made in one place.

It is also one of the most beautiful shades of blue on the planet. It has an iridescent quality that can only be slightly appreciated in some of the images included here.

I was lucky enough to tour in Iran (Persia) extensively, 20 plus years ago.  I had a truly unique perspective during my journey.  I was the daughter of well-known American Museum of Natural History artist, whose native land was Persia, now Iran.

When we visited Hamadan in central Iran during one excursion, it was still quite a primitive small town.  Many of the homes had no real plumbing.  But, they had numerous shops, filled with fabulous azure-like blue ceramics, all in ancient shapes, in all sizes, all handmade by the locals and their ancestors.  It was an amazing sight – against the color of their sandy soil the mass of blue was like heaven.

Almost all of the pottery from Hamadan was made in a blue glaze color unique to the region.  Nowhere else could they reproduce this milky, not-quite-turquoise, not-quite-aqua, color with the same tone.   The mineral content in the soil and water caused the glaze to create a blue unlike any other, and took on almost ethereal qualities. We saw many shops filled with ancient artifacts as well as newly-thrown pots.  Large water urns and huge plates adorned shop floors.  Some of these dated back as early as Darius the Great (Achaemenid Empire) circa 550 B.C.

Local potters knew they had a good thing when great interest began being paid to their glazeworks.  So, most of the town kept making these fabulous blue pieces in amazing sizes and shapes.  We bought a lot of blue that trip.

Today, I still have a plate from Hamadan that sits in my living room, shown here.  After traveling to Hamadan and learning about its history, I now look everywhere for the elusive blue.  And I wonder young potters are making beautifully-glazed blue pottery in Hamadan today.

Feel free to leave comment and let me know if you’d like to hear more!


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