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Meenakari: Coloured Story of Indian Jewellery

Traditional Indian Jewelleries are sign of royalty and heritage that speaks about rich culture of India. Meenakari is one such jewellery making technique that was traditionally originated in Persia and brought to India by Mughals who are known to be great patronage of this art.

This art got fame when Maharaja Man Singh of Mewar starts wearing this art and flaunting it in Darbar Ceremonies and through their portraits. Initially, the art is being practiced at Lahore which is called to be major centre of this art form. Later Maharaja Man Singh brought few artisans from there and setup a hub of Meenakari at Amber, Jaipur. During 16th Century this art got its real fame as the demand has been soared in national and international market.

This is one of the unique art forms among other Indian traditional jewellery. Precious and Semi-Precious stones embedded on the molten coloured glass of varied colours with outlines and bordering done with wires and molten form of gold and silver are some of the most important making factors of Meenakari Jewellery. In-place of molten glasses when jewelleries are made using crushed precious and semi-precious stones they are meant for royal families as they are high in cost.

Metals that can be used on Meenakari are varied including Gold, Silver, Brass and Copper etc. The motifs majorly used are based on traditional themes including animals, flora and fauna, religious figures from mythological stories.

Meenakari is mainly practiced at Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi & Punjab major hub of this craft is Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Nathdwara, Pratapgarh, Varanasi & Lucknow. There are three types of Meenakari has been done in these places which are “Ek Rang Khula”, “Panchrangi Meena”, Thewa (art of glass enamelling) & “Gulab Meenakari”.

Ek Rang Khula Meena- In this type of Meenakari, single coloured enamel is being used. This type of Meenakari is used for bridal jewelleries as one can easily match the colour with the outfit of the bride.

Panch Rang Meena- In this type of Meenakari as name suggests, use of five colours has been done to create astonishing designs. The name of five enamels used are Safed- Opaque White, Fakhtai- opaque light blue, Fakhta- Dove, Khula Nila- Transparent dark blue, Khula Sabz- Transparent Green.

Gulab Meenakari- This Meenakari is practiced mainly at Varanasi Uttar Pradesh and as the name suggests this used pink enamel derived from rose. In this pink enamel is painted on white opaque background. This Meenakari is also called as Bandh Meena Khaka. Areas other than flowers are painted using “Champleve Style” which gives special effect and shade through which realism has been created.

Silver enamelling is most popular at Udaipur & Bikaner, Glass enamelling in the form of thewa can be seen at Pratapgarh, Gold enamelling can be seen at Delhi & Jaipur, Blue & Green enamelling done on silver is most popular aspect of Lucknowi Meenakari whereas Pink enamelling as Gulab Meenakari is being practiced at Varanasi.

Other than jewellery this art form can also be seen at bowl sets, chairs, chowki sets, dining sets, key holders and other gift items in contemporary era to enhance the demand and usage of this handicraft.

Meenakari is one of the most fascinating craft of India that adds colour to the Indian Handicrafts.


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