All you need to know before buying ceramics in Kolkata

Shopkeepers in busy markets in Kolkata such as Gariahat and Dakshinapan tell us that there has been a rise in demand for ceramic tableware post the pandemic. But are these pieces, made by heating and hardening clay and applying coats of paint and glaze, safe to store food? We browsed through Kolkata Markets to know the right ceramic one should buy. “Chidi prints have been in trend for a few years but Mughal print is also gaining momentum as they are colourful,” shares Swapan Saha who runs a stall near Dover Lane crossing. Mukesh Shah, who runs a roadside ceramics stall on Hindustan Road, curates both modern and nostalgic pieces. “The pandemic rekindled nostalgia among customers. While western items have gained popularity, old-school pieces such as achaar jars and oil cans are also coming back.” He added butter pots that can also be used as curd setters are his best-sellers. PC Dey runs a 40-year-old art furniture shop inside Dakshinapan market and takes pride in the products he curates. From indigo checkered kitchen sets to space saving bed teapots and cup sets Dey’s shop boasts of a wide range of tableware. The shopkeepers also pointed out that winter is the peak season for them, as the demand for ceramics, which keep food warm for longer, rises in winter.



We noticed that Chidi and Mughal prints are trending in the city. Indigo-hued coffee mugs, tea pots, dinner sets to bathroom sets with a typical diamond-shaped pattern are popularly referred to as Chidi, while the Mughal designs are more intricate in vibrant hues of yellow, green, red and blue. Flowers, leaves and often birds find a place in its ornate brushstrokes. One can choose from a monochromatic piece or a multi-hued one.


Ceramics include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain to name a few. Lead glaze fuse onto the clay for a more durable, smooth and non-porous finish. If baked at inadequate temperatures, the glaze may not bond to the clay and leach into food. Here’s what you should check:

  • Look for warning labels, it may say it’s not for food use
  • Use antique ceramicware only for decorations. Lead was used back in time to increase colour intensity
  • Corroded glaze, or a dusty chalky grey residue after washing indicate leaching possibilities
  • Ornate and colourful ceramics may contain lead glaze to make it look more vibrant
  • Lead is commonly used in earthenware to make it more durable
  • Acidic items such as citrus juices and cola lead to leaching. Avoid storing these in your ceramic vessels

How to pick high-grade ceramics:

  • Visibly less glazy
  • Chances of leeching very low
  • Glaze is smooth, as it covers the designs

How to recognise low-grade ceramics:

  • The surface feels rough as the glaze doesn’t fully cover the paint
  • Handmade appearance indicate less heat usage



  • Earthenware is fired at a lower temperature to make it hard. Lead glaze may not diffuse well because of that reason.
  • Porcelain is extremely durable and non-porous as it is fired at high temperatures. It has a translucent appearance.
  • Stoneware is heated at very high temperatures and is thicker than porcelain. It has a stone like texture before being glazed.

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