Meenakari is an ancient art form that has survived to this day?

The Meenakari, a mix of the terms mina and Kari, has garnered admiration over the ages and is one of the select few types of art that has withstood the test of time.

Meenakari work
Meenakari work

What does the word mean actually? Mina is a variant of the term ‘minoo’, which alludes to ‘heaven’, and ‘Kari’ refers to ‘doing something’. Thus, Meenakari means doing something heavenly with an object. The idea was that Meenakari art was paradise imprinted on an object.

History of Meenakari

Meenakari can be defined as the method of painting or adorning metal objects. This art did not originate in India. It was brought to this country from former Persia was this one. However, you may currently find such items created in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

meenakari artisan
meenakari artisan working

This art form is thought to have been invented by Iranian artisans during the Sassanid era and was brought to India by the Mughals and Rajput kings. Records state that Raja Man Singh of Amber got artisans from the courts of Mughals in Lahore and established them in Jaipur, which is still one of the most well-liked places for Meenakari production.

The art eventually spread to Delhi, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh under the influence of the Mughal empire, but Jaipur and Rajasthan were and still are the epicenters of Indian art. Over time, Indian influences became more and more apparent, particularly when artists began receiving support from kings in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Meekari artwork
Meenakari art
This Meenakari work may be divided into two primary categories:
  • Ek rang khula, which uses only one color of enamel.
  • Panchrangi Meena, which, as its name implies, combines five colors to create a single work of art or piece of jewelry.

Meenakari art is mostly colored with melted enamel that is poured into grooves that have already been made. Additionally, naturally occurring minerals are used to extract colors.

Panchrangi Meena art
Meenakari Art

Initially, only gold was used for the art. Gradually, however, copper and silver were used as well. Bright colors are used, and nature-inspired designs and themes are frequently featured; common imagery includes birds, leaves, and flowers. Ceramic tiles were also subjected to the same procedure. Likewise, over time, Meenakari jewelry also obtained enormous popularity. Enameling is a process that involves fusing several mineral materials; thus the work is sophisticated and difficult and demands a tremendous amount of talent, accuracy, and attention.

Meenakari – Painstaking Creations of Talented Artists on Metal

Meenakari handicraft is reportedly one of the most difficult crafts to make; it takes a lot of expertise and attention. Prior to meticulously engraving the designs onto a metal piece (that needs to be worked on), it must first be secured to a stick of lac. The grooves that will later hold the colors are made during the engraving or etching process; the appropriate enamel dust colors are carefully selected and prepared beforehand. Enamels can be gently poured into the grooves that have already been made after becoming liquid when heated. The temperature may reach 750 – 850 ° C.

Until each color is used, the same procedure is repeated. Prior to adding each subsequent color, heat is initially applied to colors that can resist heat the most. Red is typically the color to be painted last, whereas white is almost always put first.

After the last color has been added, the item is polished with agate, and further colors are added to the grooves to give them depth and allow the colors to reflect off of one another. Only a small number of colors can adhere to silver, but all colors may adhere to gold, which makes Meenakari gold jewelry far more bright and colorful.

Marble Meenakari Conch
Marble Serving Conch with Meenakari Work

It is fascinating to notice that no artist can work alone while making Meenakari items, such as jewelry. They tend to work in pairs. Because this art typically requires a goldsmith, an engraver, and a designer – and all of them have to work together simultaneously.

Today, Meenakari is utilized for a wide variety of things, including elaborate jewelry sets and wall decor items. You may also find jewelry boxes, picture frames, key chains, home accents, and even furniture using Meenakari. Additionally, this work includes beautiful vases, candlesticks, plates, trays, and other objects.

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