If you are an avid jewellery lover, we won’t be surprised if your jewellery box already boasts of some exquisite Meenakari jewellery pieces. And why not? The beautiful designs and bright colours can instantly turn a regular outfit into a spectacular one. While a variety of Meenakari jewellery can be found floating in the market space today, we are sure you would appreciate those lovely pieces even more after going through these lesser-known facts about Meenakari.
3. Introduced in Rajasthan by Raja Mansingh of Amer, this Persian craft was originally used to create designs on the back of traditional polki jewellery. However, as the craft flourished under Mughal patronage, it became a design of its own, and led to something called reversible jewellery.
4. One of the most complex crafts, the process of Meenakari remains the same as it was 500 years ago! Even today, a Meenakari artefact goes through the same assembly line of craftsmen as it used to go through hundreds of years ago. The process starts with the designer (naquash), then goes to the goldsmith (sonar). It is then passed on to the engraver (kalamkar) who engraves the design, then the enamelist (meenakar) applies the colour. The artefact then goes to the polisher (ghotnawala), then the stone-setter (jadia), and finally it goes to the stringer (patua) for the final touches.
7. Meenakari is not just restricted to jewellery. The art now pervades décor products like jewellery boxes, idols, dining sets, trays, cupboards, bowls, sculptures, key chains and more. Initially, done only on gold, it is now also done on silver and copper now. While gold is mostly used for jewellery, silver is used for bowls, spoons, decorative artefacts, and copper is used for sculptures and idols. The Mughal period also saw exquisite Meenakari on hookahs and paan daans.
8. This intricate art form uses very basic tools like salai (an etching tool), mortar and pestle, kiln, metal palette, kalam (tool used to apply enamel), forceps, brass dye, small scrubbing brush, takala (a needle like tool to apply colours), agate stone for polishing and smoothing.
9. Meenakari can be found in three forms:
Ek Rang Khula Meena: Only the gold outlines are exposed and the single transparent colour is used to cover the whole engraved area.
Panch Rangi Meena: In this form, five colours, namely, green, light blue, dark blue, white and red, are used.
Gulabi Meena: Inspired by the pink blush of roses, pink is the dominant colour in this form of the art. Varanasi is famous for its Gulabi Meena work.