Wooden Lacquerware of Rajasthan

Wooden Lacquerware of Rajasthan


Ornamenting wood with painting and lacquering is done with skill and creativity by the craftsmen of Rajasthan. Before the lac is applied the wooden article is smoothened by rubbing with a fine pottery powder. The term lac-turney indicates the process by which wooden boxes or any wooden article are turned on the wheel and several layers of different coloured lac are applied on them. As the article rotates the lac stick is pressed against it and the friction softens the lac which is smeared all over the article. After lacquering, a marble polish is imparted by rubbing with a bamboo edge and then with an oil rag. The layers of lac are scraped with a pointed chisel to expose the required colour. There are different varieties of lacquering, including zig-zag and dana work, atishi or fire, abri or cloud, nakashi and etched nakashi, and painted decorative work. In nakashi work several lac layers, usually four, are applied first. The craftsperson works out designs on this with a chisel, after which colours are scraped out,, creating designs which are otherwise not possible. Landscapes, hunting scenes with details of flowers, leaves, and trees, human figures, and animals are all portrayed with extraordinary skill and delicacy. Opaque and translucent colours are used. To produce a different mottled finish, the hard sticks of lac are held lightly against the object to be lacquered so that random blotches of colour are imparted. Lacquered staves, maces, and fly-whisks were produced in abundance earlier. The main centres are Jaipur, Kotah, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Sawaimadhopur, and Khandela. The products made are bed posts, legs for small stools or pidis, and chowkies that are painted and lacquered and meant for bride(s) and groom(s) to be seated on at the time of marriage. A large variety of lacquer ware toys are available. In Udaipur, lacquering is done most frequently in the zig-zag and dana designs. The products made include household items like chakla and belan, tables, tea pots, table lamps, lamp stands, and decorative plates. The wood used here is the soft variety. The richly painted laquered furniture of Rajasthan is very attractive in appearance and is made in vibrant colours, often enhanced by using glass.

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