If you’re a jewelry lover, you would most definitely own a piece of Meenakari jewelry. Here’s a list of facts that’ll make you appreciate your lovely pieces even more!
- Meenakari or Meena Kari or Mina Kari is an art of painting or embellishing various types of metals (gold, silver, faux, etc.) with vibrant colors in dramatic motifs of birds, flowers and leaves
- Meenakari work originated in Persia, and was later introduced to India through the Mughal invaders. Raja Man Singh of Amber brought Meenakari to Rajasthan at the turn of the 16th century. Man Singh brought skillful minakars from the Mughal palace at Lahore and established them in Jaipur, which became the center of Meenakari.
- Mina fixates on the cyanic color of heaven, as ‘Mina’ is the feminine version of Minoo (Persian meaning = Heaven).
- The colors used for enameling are metal oxides, mixed with a dash of powdered glass. The mixtures in their raw form do not show the actual colors instantly, but only when the product is fired in the furnace. As each color is individually fired, colors which are most heat resistant are applied first and are then re-fired with each additional color. As a rule, white is the first color applied and red the last.
- A single piece of a Meena work passes through several hands for perfection. The designers or the ‘Nacquash’, followed by the ‘Sonar’ or goldsmith create the initial design. Then comes the work of the ‘kalamkar’ or the one who engraves the designs and this is followed by the ‘Meenakar’ or the enamelist. Then the product is polished by the ‘Ghotnawala’ or the polisher and passed to the ‘Kundansaaz’ or the stone setter. Lastly, it goes to the ‘Patua’ or the stringer, for final touches.
- To bring out the luster of each color, the piece is rubbed and then cleaned with a mix of tamarind and lime.
- Most conventional metals have been gold, copper and silver, but these days they also use white metal, which is far more affordable.
- Although this craft was originally used to create designs on the back of traditional polki jewelry, it is now used on countless items such as decorative boxes, bells, fruit baskets, trays, key chains and other products.