A Regal Journey Through Centuries: Meenakari Jewelry

Meenakari jewelry finds its niche and influence in the Indian bridal jewelry market today. It successfully brings forth a tradition that has been around since a long time, and looks divinely exquisite. That’s just about everything that a bride is looking or, on one of the most special days of her life.

There are chiefly two types of Meenakari work that are famous – “Ek Rang Khula” and “Pancharangi Meena.” For the first one, only one brilliant color is used in the jewelry, while the latter uses a combination of five vibrant colors, namely white, red, dark green, pale blue, and dark blue. Depending on the bridal trousseau, one can choose the ideal jewelry. One of the other fascinating qualities about this jewelry is that it can be reversed and worn too by the wearer, giving them more than one exquisite designs to showcase through the same piece of jewelry.

The Meenakari art we see today has been inspired a lot by the brilliant craftsmanship found mainly in Rajasthan. The making of this art requires precise technical skill and an effective design aptitude.

Let’s look at the origin of this artform, and how it’s made.

Origin and Influence

The word Meena is said to have been the inspiration behind Meenakari. Meena is a Persian word which refers to the azure color of the heaven. It was the Iranian craftsmen of Sassanid era who invented this beautiful artform. Craftsmen in India as well as some other countries were introduced to this art through the Mongols who invaded the country.

Making Meenakari jewelry is an art that comprises of using brilliant colors to design the surface of metals in the most exquisite way. Gold used to be the metal of preference for Meenakari for the longest time, since it’s able to hold the enamel better than most other metals out there. Also, nothing exudes gleam and grace as gold does! It was quite far down the timeline of Meenakari, that Silver was introduced mainly to make boxes, spoons, bowls, etc. And as the Gold Control Act was imposed later, the Indian Meenakars went on the search for other metals that could replace Gold, and sure enough found Copper.

The journey of this art has also had a bit of competition as a roadblock. One of the biggest competitors was Kundan jewelry. For a long time in the past, Meenakari work couldn’t get the fame it deserved because it was kept in the shadow of stone studded jewelry and Kundan art.

Meenakari Art: How Does One Make It?

First of all, the designer who is known as chitera goes to the goldsmith who in turn engraves the design. The color and the polisher is applied by the enamellist, followed by the work of stone-setter and the stringer who together form a fundamental part of the chain of craftsmen who go on to create the final product.

Meenakars use a metal stylus to engrave intricate designs on the metal surfaces, and later fill them with beautiful colors. These colors are then fused to each other and further hardened so as to maintain the uniformity of the final painted surface. Moreover, to enhance the luster of each color, some lemon and tamarind is gently rubbed over the surface.

There has been an increased demand for Meenakari jewelry in the past few years, and it has proved beyond a doubt that the charm of this art is not going away anywhere soon. Craftsmen today are designing this jewelry in both traditional as well as modern design patterns, making them easily the first choice for all jewelry lovers.

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