Posted on 01-Feb-2018 19:13:53
India has an age-old affair with traditional jewellery. And if there is one such form of jewellery which has impressed many, starting from the Persian craftsmen, to Mughal kings and queens to the lords and ladies of Rajasthan, it is Meenakari Jewellery.
Intricacy and details are two things that define Meenakari jewellery. Artisans mostly use gold, silver, brass and copper, and semi-precious stones in the form of rose cut diamonds, sapphires, rubies etc. to make fine Meenakari.
What makes Meenakari jewellery one of the favourite jewellery in India? Lets find out.
Meenakari is all about decorating metal surfaces with powdered minerals like copper and cobalt.
This unique form of art and craft came to India in Varanasi, at the time of the great Mughal king, Shah Jahan in the 16th century.
Any clue, what is the meaning of the word Meenakari?
Mina, the feminine form of “Minoo” in Persian, means heaven. Mina is also a reference to the azure color (a hue halfway between blue and cyan) of heaven.
Raja Man Singh of Mewar is considered as the main patron of the meenakari art in 16th century in Jaipur. It is due to his efforts that the capital city Jaipur became the hub of meenakari. The influx of skilled craftsman from Lahore further made Jaipur a specialized centre of meenakari designs.
Ever since, Jaipur meenakari jewellery has been the most sought-after handcrafted enamel used in various items such as jewellery, sculptures, architecture and houseware. While the cities of Bikaner and Udaipur are famous for their silver meenakari work, Lahore and Jaipur are known for gold meenakari jewellery.
Colour and meenakari are two best friends. That is why, minerals such as copper and cobalt are moulded to impart a colourful look to meenakari jewellery designs.
Red, green, yellow and blue are the common colours used in meenakari. But what makes this jewelry form charming and endearing is the nature-based motifs such as flowers (phool-patti) and animals/birds such as peacocks, elephants, parrots etc.
Now you know why doing Meenakari needs proficient and trained artisans and craftsmen.
There are three types of Meenakari Art which are popular “Ek rang khula” (which uses single color), “Pachrangi meena” (which uses five colors namely white, pale blue, dark blue, red and dark green) and “Gulabi meena” (where pink is the dominant colour).
The “Ek rang khula” type is a great idea to match the ornament color with the bridal clothes, whereas the “Pachrangi meena” gives more vibrant colors to the traditional Indian bridal jewellery. Varanasi is famous for its “Gulabi meena” work.
Image Source: Pinterest
Heard of the assembly line in making of cars? A meenakari artefact uses the same principle of going through an assembly line of craftsmen, as it did thousands of years ago.
Hey, how about decoding the entire making process?
Well, it starts with the designer (naquash), then the goldsmith (sonar), the engraver (kalamkar) who engraves the design. Now comes in the enamelist (meenakar) to apply the colour. The artefact then goes to the polisher (ghotnawala), followed by the stone-setter (jadia). It then goes to the stringer (patua) for the final touches.
Any sequence of pouring colors? White is the first colour, followed by green, blue, and red. Once each colour has been poured, the meena piece is fired in a kiln.
According to the ongoing and current trends, two types of meena exist
The desi or Indian meena. This melts at extremely high temperature.
The foreign or vilayati meena where the enamel is sourced from Europe, which has a much lower melting point and more flexibility. Since it is cheaper as compared to the desi version, it can be worn by a wider section of society.
The risk factor is always there. When you wear Meenakari frequently (and not occasionally), the enamel on the back side of the jewellery piece is prone to wear off.
Hold on! The interesting thing is that Meenakari jewel brightens up with every wear, thanks to special minerals used for enamelling that dont diminish fast. This could be one reason why meenakari jewellery designs are the most durable forms of Indian jewellery, and pricewise higher as compared to other jewellery items.
Image Source: vogue.com
So if you are a lover of bright colours and beautiful designs, then go ahead and shop for meenakari jewellery.
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