Firozabad Glass Wonders
Light always surrounds us during our waking moments in one form or the other. We get greeted by the warm and brilliant rays of sunlight in the morning, at night we walk by the bright glow of streetlamps and switch it on and off, whenever and wherever we want in our homes. Light is what makes glass so beautiful. It refracts as it passes through glass to display vibrant colours in a shimmering burst of luminance.
We would like to present to you an Indian speciality from the City of Bangles, the Glass City of Firozabad.
In a remote village called Chandwar, surrounded by forests, Raja Todar Mal, a member of the nine jewels (navratnas) of the Mughal King Akbar’s court was passing through on his pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi when he was attacked by robbers. Raja Todar Mal complained to King Akbar, who subsequently sent Firoz Shah, a commander, to rid the area of robbers. Firoz Shah easily wiped out the robbers present in the area and erected a military stronghold in order to guard the area against future attacks by robbers.
After the death of Firoz Shah, the village of Chandwar was renamed to Firozabad.
At the time, in the late 16th century, bangle making was a known art in the region, however, due to the royal patronage of King Akbar, the foundations of the bangle making industry was established. Moreover, when Firoz Shah and his men settled in the region, his entourage had artists from Rajasthan who were experts in making bangles and beads. These Rajasthani artists spread their skills by teaching the local artists. Then the introduction of clay ovens was seen along with the local wood fired furnaces known as bhainsa bhattis that have been used since ancient times and observed all over the world. You can still find them near Aligarh being used to melt glass.