The genius of Rajasthan’s Lacquer craft

The seventh generation Lacquer artisan Avaz Mohammed, 74 fondly reminisces his exhibition at Milan in 2017 with the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts.Compelling, elegant and filled with personality, the colourways produced by him are infused with all the elements of aesthetic muse.

Adorning the wood with painting and lacquering with great skill and creativity is one the singular occupations of Rajasthani artisans. From meenakari to puppet making, the land of colors has the absolute immersive craft experiences for the seekers.

Producing a vast range of ornaments like a bangle with one end twisted into a snake head; a speckled choker,oversized pendants, beads twined and so on, the accessories designed by  Mohammed in his studio near Jantar Mantar have long  been adding charm to Jaipur market due to their contemporary appeal.

The wooden article is smoothened by rubbing a fine pottery powder prior to the application of lac. The wooden article is then turned on the wheel and as the lac stick is pressed against it, the lac is smeared all over the article. Several layers of different coloured lac are applied in this way. This is followed by applying a marble polish with a bamboo edge and then shining it with an oil rag.

According to him, Lacquer is prepared with a discreet proportion of resins from the cheed ka ped (pine), lac from the peepal, budh, beri (the cheapest), or kusum (the most expensive) trees, and soapstone powder. The lac is actually the product of insect secretion  deposited on trees . A lot of what you see in the market is just resin and soapstone.

The lockdown has really subjected the life of artisans close to privation but many of them have also utilised the time to improvise  their techniques and learning the basics of online business.

The future of travel has to be about learning, experiencing, and exploring. And with Indians being their mainstay — before the lockdown and after — it is all the more reason to make karigars and the Indian crafts heave into the sight of the worldly audience.

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