Wood inlay is the process of decorating the surface of wood by setting in pieces of material such as ivory, bone, plastic, or wood of different colours. This craft is concentrated in Mysore and Bangalore in Karnataka where its roots can be traced back to a family by the name of Mirza Yousuf Ali who were pioneers in the field.
The artisan smoothens the base of the rose wood and the design is traced and etched into the surface. The several components of the inlay are painstakingly assembled to match and fit exactly into the grooves and are then glued in. The design is finished by obtaining the required shades with several coats of polish.
Examples of inlay work in Karnataka include the ivory inlay in rose wood and ebony in the Srirangapatnam mausoleum; the doors of the Amba Vilas palace in Mysore are also fine examples of inlay. Products with inlay include plates, boxes, bowls, cigarette cases, and figures of animals, especially elephants, which continue to be popular. The designs include floral and geometric patterns, landscapes, pastoral scenes, processions, and scenes from the epics.
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