Lacquerware: Kutch, Gujarat

Lacquer ware is a beautiful process done by colouring hand-carved wooden items with resin obtained from trees. The lac is applied and polished to a smooth glazed finish on a variety of products. The process is as beautiful as the products. Loveknits team saw the tedious process by talented artists. It was truly an experience!

 

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  • Lacquer ware is turned wood which is covered with a colored,often patterned lacquer.

  • The articles made by the nomadic tribal community of Vadas in the Nirona region of Kutch made in hard mango wood covered with red, black, yellow, and green lac colours.

  • The main lacquer ware products in Kutch are Chakia -Velan (Chapatti roller and board), Charpoy (Bedsteads), Toys, Bajot (stool), Khandani (pestle and mortars), Spice storage pots and Dandia sticks (used for Garba dancing).

  • The use of Lac in India goes back to ancient times. The substance is derived from a tiny insect which secretes a resin around itself to form a protective covering.

  • on the lathe, a colored lac stick is applied to the turning wood to give the wood a rough coating. Then by pressing another piece of wood against it, friction cause the lac to heat up on the surface, melting and spreading it into an even layer covering the wood with a tough opaque layer. An application of groundnut oil is used to help this latter process.

  • By applying different color in layers, various effects can be achieved. Often a top layer of color is chiseled off in a geometric or floral pattern to reveal the color below.

  • The Banni area of Kutch with its own distinctive designs in lacquer ware is primarily famous for household items like bread rollers, spoons, churners, oil containers, legs for beds and wooden spinners.

  • The art of lacquering has flourished for centuries in Sankheda,a small village about 80 km from Baroda in Gujarat. The style is distinct and the items crafted here have unusual colours and designs. Both round and flat surfaces are lacquered where the initial process of turning the product on a lathe is similar to the one followed in other areas. This is followed by giving a cast of violet dye over which an emulsion prepared from kalai or tin is used to paint the designs. The product is then glazed next with a hard stone called akik while being turned. This process is followed by imparting a transparent lacquer coat using a lacquer stick after which the kalai work beneath gleams to give the finished product a fiery golden-yellow effect. The designs generally used are a combination of floral and geometrical patterns. This synthesis is also known as the atishi style of  lacquering. Lacquered products were traditionally popular in Gujarat due to the prevailing social custom of presenting the bride with lacquered items such as the cradle, square seats used for religious ceremonies trays, boxes, dishes, utensils, cutlery, vases, bangle stands, lamp.

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