Wooden Lacquerware of Gujarat

The articles made by the nomadic tribal community of vadas in the Nirona region of Kutch include rolling pins, legs for beds, chairs and tables made in hard mango wood covered with red, black, yellow, and green lac colours. These skilled craftsmen use highly decorative graphics to etch onto the coloured parts with the help of a chisel.

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 bases, chairs, beds legs, sofa sets, agarbathi holders and toys.

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