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Indian Crafts >> Meenakari
Meenakari
Indian Crafts - Meenakari
History of Meenakari

Pink painted enamel style is said to be brought in Varanasi by the Persian enamelists, who had come to India, around early 17th century, when the Mughal Court was at its peak. This enameling style had attained the peak of perfection at the Persian Court at Isfahan during the Qajar dynasty (1795-1924). The present meenakar at Varanasi comment that the state of art of meenakari was prosperous till about hundred year ago. Today only about ten craft persons are working on gold enamel, and twenty five make silver enamel jewellery and objects.
Fine Art
The enamel workers are called meenakar, and the work is known as meenakari. In some work, the entire object, such aspendant, is covered with this technique. On a typical pair of kara bangles with three-dimensional makara, elephant, lion or bird head terminals, additionally decorated with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, as they often were, is a dazzlingly opulent object that embodies a galaxy of goldsmith arts. A special type is ek rang khula mina,in which a single-color transparent enamel fills all engraved area, leaving gold outlines exposed around figural details.Pachrangi mina (five-colour enamel) is aspecial multicoloured style of enameling. The five colours used are safed (opaque white), fakhtai (opaque light blue) from fakhta (a dove), khula nila (transparent dark blue), khula sabz (transparent green), khula lal (transparent red).
Procedure
Design is made on the metal surface by the craftsmen called chitras. This design is engraved by the gharias such that depressions are created. If gold is used, then precious stones are set on it by kundansaz. Then it goes to the meenakar for enameling. The base is first covered by white or pink enamel, upon which different colours are applied in order of their hardness. It is then heated to enhance the richness of the colours.Gulabi mina (pink enamel) is derived from gulab (rose) which has been popularly associated with the Varanasi enameling style. It includes areas of painted enamel, generally flowers, executed in translucent pink on an opaque white ground. All other enameled areas on the object are created in the champleve style, which makes this a mixed style of enameling. The technique requires at least five separate enamel applications. When a single transparent coloured enamel is used to fill the ground around an opaque figure, various colour of ground like lal zamin (transparent red ground), sabz zamin (transparent green ground), nil zamin (transparent blue ground) are chosen to contrast with and set off that of the subject. Bandh mina khaka (opaque cartouche or outline ) is a technique in which the figure in transparent colour is surrounded by an opaque enamel cartouche. The object when ready is polished and cleaned. Generally hand burnishes are used to cover any exposed metal.
Resources
Basic Material : Gold, silver, copper, brass metal.
Decorative Material : Kundan (if gold is used).
Colouring Material : Enamel colours-white, black, yellow, pink, green, red, blue, orange, salmon.
Equipments
Matti ki guthli (made from a mixture of mud)
Artifacts
Ornaments, door handles, gift items

Indian Crafts : History of Meenakari