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Indian Crafts >> Lacquer Ware
Lacquer Ware
History of Lacquer Ware

Man, in his, exuberance, seems to have devised further method to have devised further method of ornamenting wood by lacquering in which countless designs and colours can be executed.Coloured lacquer ware is made in Sheopur, Rewa Budhi, Bhopal, Gwalior, Ratlam and Sabalgarh. This craft produced a large variety of decorative as well as utility items.

Man, in his exuberance, seems to have devised further method of ornamenting wood by lacquering in which countless design and colour schemes can be executed.

The lacquer ware of Savantvadi, once a princely state, is a traditional craft. The traditional craftsmen are known as Chittorees, picture makers. At one time this was a big craft centre for a variety of articles especially the round lacquered highly pictorial playing cards. The production now is mainly centred on lacquered imitation fruits and vegetables. It is their faithful resemblance to the original objects which attracts customers. The origin of these imitation items is traced to a local custom of the father-in-law of new bride sending her gifts during the auspicious shravan month, which includes toys and other imitation objects.

Chennapatna in Karnataka state holds an honoured place in the lacquer ware world. It is an old industry practised by craftsmen called Chitragars, picture makers.
Fine Art
Lac is a kind of resin. For its application lac is heated to get a plastic condition then it is kneaded and colours are added, then drawn to be made into sticks. The craft produces a large variety of decorative as well as utility items including small models of kitchenware, toys, chairs, tables lamps and so on.

Navrangpur in Orissa has a distinct type of lacquering with its own designs and colour schemes. Many decorative items and toys are made. Their speciality is a box made generally ofbamboo, sometimes of papier mache, brightly lacquered and highly decorated with folk motifs, animals, flowers, birds traditionally used for exchanging gifts.

Savantvadi in Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra is famous for its lacquered imitation fruits and vegetables, though it makes a few other items also. It is also famous for ganjifa circular playing cards, with pictures based on mythological subjects, especially the ten avataras of Vishnu.

Geometric and floral patterns are commonly used in the designs. These designs are painted in several combination according to the artist fancy.Formerly chennapatna used to make mostly geometrical designs, now other designs are in use like country side scenes, landscapes, dance ensembles etc made mostly on wall plaques or plates.
Procedure
At first, the wooden article is smoothened by rubbing with fine pottery powder. It is then put on a lathe and rotated, while the lac stick is pressed against it. The friction softens the lac which is then smeared all over. If more than one colour is to be applied spots are left blank where more rounds are taken to cover up each with a different tint. A small and sharp chisel is used to spin the design in various colours. A marble polish is given by first rubbing with a bamboo edge and then with an oil rag.

The designs drawn with lacquerware were tin foil ornamentation. A fragment of coloured lac is placed on a sheet of tin foil and melted to fully cover the desired spot. This is used as an adjunct to ornamental lac turney, so areas that cannot be treated on the lathe, as in the case of boxes, are thus ornamented by tin foil clippings, plain or coloured, in various shapes and forms.

Hale and pangora wood is used both being soft and light. Before applying the lac smoothening of article is done by a paste of tamarind seed and white glue followed by dry sand papering. The friction softens the lac which is then smeared all over. If more than one colour is to be applied then spots are left blank where more rounds are taken to cover up each with a different tint.

Hale is the main wood used for its fairly soft body and close grain. The painted zig zag and dana techniques are practised. Parallel lines are scraped on a lac-coated surface then an eccentric movement is made while a piece of hard wood is pressed firmly against the lac-coating and the straight lines get turned into zig zag.
Resources
Basic Material : Haldu wood, dudhi wood and salaiya wood, lathe, pottery powder, lac stick, marble polish, oil rag, resin (a kind of lac), button lac
Colouring Material : Colour

Basic Material : Lac, colours, tin foil, lathe

Basic Material : Hale wood, pangora wood, tamarind seed, white glue, dry sand papering, lac-resin

Basic Material : Hale wood, lac, a variety of colours
Artifacts
Kitchenware, toys, chairs, table lamps.

Boxes, bangles, necklaces, toys, animals, flowers, birds

imitation fruits, vegetables, ganjifa circular playing cards, mythological pictures, ten avataras of vishnu

decorate pieces, toys and dolls, sports goods, napkin rings, bangles, pencils & other stationery articles, egg cups, incense stick stands, salt and pepper set figures of human beings

Indian Crafts : History of Lacquer Ware