Raw lac and shell lac are produced in large quantities in the forests of Bihar. Three kinds of raw material, kusum, palash and bararey, are available. Of these kusum is considered to be the best lac. Wooden products worked on the lathe --- like boxes, legs of beds and stools, and bangles ---- are all decorated with lacquer. Each area specialises in different designs. Designs of bangles in Sursand in Muzzaffarpur district in north Bihar retain the traditional colouring patterns and designs. Lacquerware also has ritualistic connotations in Bihar. The vermilion container used at marriages is made of lac. A community called laheris makes these round or oval shaped containers called sindurdans. Fish, chakras, and dancing peacock are used as embellishments. A nose ring box often given to a bride at her wedding is a round conical ceremonial box with symbols of fertility and longevity engraved on its red body. Other colourful and well-ornamented items include the chappati box and dry-fruit containers, bangles, and other ceremonial objects, unique both in colour and design.
After turning and colouring the object on a lathe, fine decorative linear patterns are engraved on the surface of the articles. The colours used are generally red and black and the objects made are bowls, boxes, lamp shades and trays. Traditionally, the first application is of followed by red and then the final coating is with black. The colours that emerge depend on the combination of the lacquer colour coats under the final black. This gives the product distinct and unusual look.
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