Royal Cobalt Blue

Is there any blue richer than this?

Iranian Vessel Photographed by M@mad on Flickr

Especially when shown against that yellow. It is a handcrafted Iranian ceramic vessel purchased by Flickr member M@mad in Isfahan, Iran and photographed by him.

We may think the Iranian designs are gorgeous, but the British Museum explains that some Iranian potters were inspired by Chinese porcelains. Iranian rulers had acquired Chinese porcelain through trade and diplomatic gifts, and the Chinese pieces became highly prized in Iran. Thus potters produced designs like this one from the 16th century, to imitate Chinese pieces:

16th Century Iranian Pottery with Chinese Design from British Museum

Here is another example against yellow, this one from India, a mural painted by Ariya Nair:

Wood Mural Painting by Ariya Nair

Simple small tiles, but they have super-sized impact in this color. Photo by Wendee Schmitke on Flickr:

Blue Tiles Photographed by Wendee Schmitke

Apparently, they are at a children’s day care center. All places should have such style!

Even in smaller doses, the color delivers a punch. These pots are in Mauritius, photographed by Niranj Vaidyanathan on Flickr:

Blue Pots in Mauritius Photographed by Niranj Vaidyanathan on Flickr

You don’t have to go to Iran, India, or Mauritius to see this color though. You may find it right around you, wherever you are. Perhaps in blue bottles:

Blue Bottles from Discovery Channel

This color has literally stood the test of time. Here are fragments of Iranian tile from an article about how to analyze ancient ceramics to find the chemical and mineral coloring agents of the glazes and pastes:

Ancient Iranian Tile Fragments

These tile fragments are from the Takht-e Soleyman palace in Iran and were created during the 13th-15th centuries. I wonder if they knew back then the precautions they should take when using cobalt pigments. Apparently it is toxic when inhaled and potters can get cobalt poisoning if they don’t take precautions to protect themselves.

Cobalt blue is still popular today. In fact Refinery 21 says it’s a trendy color for fall 2013 clothes and they give 11 ways to add cobalt blue to your wardrobe.

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5 Replies to “Royal Cobalt Blue”

  1. I love this!
    Have you seen the colour “Majorelle Blue”. Check it out in the Marrakech garden that was once owned by the artist Majorelle and subsequently (restored) by Yves St Laurent. It’s eye-poppingly fabulous . . . .
    You will LOVE love LOVE it!

  2. Such beautiful pieces! I have always admired the color. The ancient Persians were probably making blue pigments and turning out lovely ceramic ware from the time the Chinese and Indian merchants traveled along the Silk Road — some good traded along that route went all the way to Rome by the 1st century CE. Blue pigments are very difficult to create in a stable form, evidently, and so the ancient potters and painters, particularly in ancient Egypt where the techniques were perfected, kept their formulae secret, and the color’s use was restricted to the royal court and high officials! It was only within the past few years that the secret of how the Egyptians made their blue pigments has been thoroughly analyzed. I’ve written about it at my Goddesschess blog because the subject is so fascinating. The ancient Mayans likewise had a very special blue color that, on the surface at least, appears very similar to the ancient Egyptian blues — but they arrived at a totally original compound to make their color. I am not an artist or a scientist, but the subject fascinates me. As I read through the articles on how the molecular make-up of the famous Egyptian and Mayan blues were decoded, I was so struck by how similar the molecular structures of the underlying compounds were! How clever the people in these ancient cultures were. We could learn so much from both their successes and their failures.

    1. Thank you so much Jan, for adding this info! It makes sense we think of it as “royal” blue. What you say probably explains why we see so much important ancient pottery with blue colors rather than other colors. Yes, it is fascinating how people on opposite sides of the world reached similar answers – that seems to have happened with food too. These civilizations had so much knowledge that they didn’t have to get into college loan debt to obtain! Of course maybe people got their knowledge through other types of debt, who knows …

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