Origin: In Persian, the feminine form of Minoo is Mina, meaning heaven. Mina spells the Azure color of heaven. Iranian craftsmen of Sasanied era invented this art whilst Mongols spread it like fire. Mughals and Hindus fell in love with the touch of Meenakari in their jewelry. This art form visited India with Mughal invasion. Mughals came from Persia during the 17th century and carried with them this mesmerizing craft. Raja Mansingh is known to introduce this art form to India. Raja Mansingh brought the best artisans from Lahore and Persia to train local craftsmen.
Bestowed with huge appreciation,this craft reached its peak during Qajar dynasty (1795-1924). The Meenakari art was started by Soni caste and typically belongs to them. This work is generally passed on by fathers to their sons.
Present Day: Initially, gold was the most popular metal used for Meenakari. With time silver and copper became popular too. During earlier times, Meenakari was crafted by a team of goldsmith (Sonar, Swarnakar),the designer (Kalamkar, Khodnakar), polisher (Ghotnawala, Chiknawala),enamellist, stone-setter (Jadia, Kundansaaz) and stringer. However, with lack of resources, artisans polished their skills in handling all the responsibilities.
Nowadays, Meenakari is not only used to craft traditional jewellery but also other attractive items such as vases, key chain, wall pieces, bowls and lots more. The most common patterns of Meenakari are floral pattern, leaves, Indian motifs, birds like peacock etc. This art form is available in all sorts of colours like blue, yellow, pink, red etc. This art of Rajasthan goes best with Polki or Kundan jewellery.
Procedure: Meenakari is a unique art that requires expertise and is only done in Rajasthan and other northern parts of India. Only experienced artisans have the courage to dip their hands in this art form.
Meenakari involves embellishment of precious stones to metal surface. The process of creating Meenakari starts with engraving designs on metal and then colours are added to make it appear attractive. After this step, Meena is put on metal and is fused well to ensure it sticks easily to the metal surface. Once the Meena design is ready, the metal surface is cleaned with the mixture of lemon with tamarind. This is done so that the surface shines. Enamel colours used usually consist of metal oxides. These metal oxides are then mixed with powdered glass. Few examples of colours are yellow colour from potash, blue shade from cobalt oxide, violet shade from manganese, brown from red oxide and green from copper oxide. Before colouring the metal surfaces, the surface is thoroughly cleaned so that the colours reflect beautifully. Then, the metal is fused at a temperature of 850 degrees celsius.
The art of Meenakari is treasured across the world. Meenakari items are exported all across the world have huge demand in Countries like USA, UK, UAE,France etc.
Bring Home Meenakari: You can buy this handicraft from local markets across Rajasthan.