Enchanting Tale of Meenakari Designs

Meenakari Designs

The famous Meenakari designs undoubtedly resonate the story of our deep rich Indian traditions, customs and culture. These designs are usually done on metallic ornaments. It is a very fascinating type of painting technique. On the other hand, it is one of the most complex branches of art and design. Every young Indian bride will love to wear jewellery with such beautiful and delicate designs.

What is Meenakari work?

Meenakari is a type of “enamelling”; which implies applying a colourful coating to decorate the grooves or engravings on the surface of metals. Usually, this artwork uses brilliant bright colours; red, green, blue, yellow and white are some of the usual colours. Meenakari got its name from the feminine form of the word, “Minoo” which is “Mina”. Minoo in the Persian language means paradise/heaven. It actually signifies the colour “Azur” in old French. In the modern language, it denotes “Azure”. Similarly, azure is the bright light blue colour comparable to the colour of a cloudless sky. 

History of Meenakari designs

Meenakari artwork was developed by Italian craftsmen. It is believed that Mongolians spread this art to different countries. The centuries-old art form was brought to India in the early 17th century (Mughal era) by Raja Mansingh, who was the Raja of Amber. 

The Making Of A Single Piece Of Meenakari Jewellery

Earlier, artisans created Meenakari designs only on gold articles. But later, the craftsmen started creating them on silver, copper, brass. Similarly, artisans are now creating such works on artificial metals/ alloys to make fashion jewellery. This art uses different types of mineral oxides to produce distinct colours. After decorating the metal surfaces by colouring the patterns; placing them in the kiln, eventually, hardens the colours. Furthermore, the colours fuse with the metals at a high temperature.

The Making Process

The process of doing Meenakari work on jewellery is a bit complicated process. Firstly, the Nacquash (Designers) and Chiteras (Painters) along with the assistance of Sonar/Swarnakar (Goldsmiths) creates the initial design. Then comes the role of Kalakars (Engravers) and Meenakars (Enamellists). They engrave the design on the metal surface with enamel colours. Next, the polisher (Ghotnawala) polishes the material. Later, the piece moves into the hands of stone setter (Jadia, Kundansaaz). Eventually, the Pattua (Stringer) comes into the picture. He strings the separate pieces together. After drying the colours, comes the last step. Finally, rubbing the piece with a tamarind-lime mix helps the piece to bring out its shiny appearance. 

Types of Meenakari Work

  • Ek Rang Khula Mina- This method uses a single transparent colour to fill the grooves/engravings of ornaments, exposing just the gold outlines.
  • Panch Rang Mina- This design uses just five colours (green, light blue, dark blue, white and red) for creating this work.
  • Gulabi Mina- It is also well-known as the pink enamelling of Banaras. Painting pink colour strokes on a white enamel background are Gulabi Mina designs. This work is inspired by the colour of Gulab (rose); hence, is quite exemplary.
  • Bandh Mina Khaka- For this type of work, the craftsmen surround the opaque colours by transparent ones.

Meenakari in Modern Times

Presently, Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan is famous for Meenakari work. Combining Meenakari work with Kundan designs in ornaments; these are high demand works in the market. Obviously, those pieces exhibit an out-of-this-world look to the viewers’ eyes.

Doing this work on fashion jewellery, without a doubt, makes it affordable for everyone. Furthermore, This is one of the current trends in bridal jewellery too. The artisans pass their knowledge to their next generations. Hence, now it is a hereditary craft.

Meenakari work is not only found on the jewellery pieces; but also on pillars, jewellery boxes, huqqas (belonging to Mughal era), dining sets, idols, photo-frames and on key and pen holders. In conclusion, these artisans prove that a real artist doesn’t need a canvas to show their creativity.

1 comment on “Enchanting Tale of Meenakari Designs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *