- Lac bangle making is an art, as old as the establishment of Jaipur city
- The ladies generally manage with a singular stove with a metal plate on top and simple hand made wooden batons and tweezers from within the shop.
(IIP) - LAC, A RESINOUS substance produced by the female lac insect found in abundance in the forests of Rajasthan,is formed into a variety of jewellery items,chief among them the chudi or bangle.Although all lac jewellery is regarded as propitious and is worn especially on auspicious occasions,lac bangles are also worn to signify that the wearer is marriedd.The bangles are available in a stunning array of colours and are also frequently studdedd(naqqashi worked)with glass pieces,bright stones,and beads.The traditional bangles are plain and ornamented with leheriya,wave-like patterns of diagonal lines. motifs such as a the patta(straight lines)or phooldar (floral) are etched onto the surface of multiple layers of many hued lac coats,thus revealing the colour embedded in the initial layers.
Lac bangle making is an art, as old as the establishment of Jaipur city. The king of Amer summoned the most initial craftsmen from the Manoharpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Once the capital city was instituted, these Manihar craftsmen also shifted their vocational base from Amer to Jaipur. The lane is dotted with countless bangle selling shops mostly managed by the muslim Manihari women while their men are away at the kilns and furnaces melting and preparing the raw-material.
The antiquity of this natural resin goes as back as the vedas, where the Laksha taru (or Palas) in Sanskrit, or the Lac tree has been mentioned. In the Atharva Veda, there is a small chapter devoted to the description of Lac insect, its habits and usefulness. The story of the notorious Lac palace built by the Kauravas in a plot to eliminate the Pandavas, in an episode from the 3000-year-old Mahabharata epic sheds more light on the history of this material.
The process of obtaining Lac is carried out in large mud kilns. Semisolid Lac is placed on the hot metal plate coated with a layer of oil, which prevents it from sticking to the plate. This semisolid dough is then rolled into poles, and once dry these poles are sent away to the women who run the shops within the city. The ladies generally manage with a singular stove with a metal plate on top and simple hand made wooden batons and tweezers from within the shop. Roller pins are used to flatten the length of the solid poles and draw sheets out of the chunk. Slender strips are then creased and cropped out of the flat sheet of lacquer and rolled into a bangle like shape.
The dimensions of these bangles are adjusted by mild heating on the stove and gentle molding over wooden batons of varying diameters. The beauty of these bangles emerges from the fact that the manihari women create custom made accessories for their clientele by adjusting the bangle to the desired size and ornamenting them with the preferred beads, stones, crystals and other embellishments fancied by the she patrons visiting the store. It is interesting to observe the Lac bangles once broken, can easily be rejoined by mild heating and tender fabrication over the wooden mould. Since repeated heating eliminates moisture and makes lacquer brittle, the process of breaking and rejoining has a limit of 8 to 10 times only.
The Rajasthani rituals are known to require specific traditional ornamentations and different festivals seek different ensembles. Hence the sale of these bangles surges during local celebrations such as teej, the marwari festival of gangaur, karva chauth, holi, weddings and special ceremonies for the mothers-to-be. In fact, each celebration can be identified with a distinct style of bangle design. For instance, a wedding in the family calls for the “gulali choodha” or the red colored bangle or the “hare bandon ka choodha”, the green colored bangle. Pink colored bangles are worn exclusively during holi. Besides bangles, rings, toe rings (bichchua), anklets (payal), nose rings, neck pieces, Bala, Bajuband, Rakhi, Gajra, Gokhru, Timaniyan and ‘maathe ka tika’ make prized slections for the visiting female clientele.