Wood Inlay of Punjab

Origin: Inlay is an ornamental technique of injecting fragments of contrasting acrylic, bones, and shell in to depressions in a base object. The history of Indian craft does not embrace any proof to highlight the origin of Inlay. However, testimonials of Inlay works are the walls of Taj Mahal and Red Fort.  At Taj Mahal Inlay work is done using marble. This craft is believed to be 900 year old.

Taking a cue from monuments, Inlay on wood initiated using ivory. This craft was also done on musical instruments such as Veena, Sitar, and Sarangi. Later, it progressed to furniture. Hoshiarpur, Punjab has been home to this craft for around 300 years. Initially, all the work was carried on using ivory until it got banned. 

In the off season, farmers dipped their hands in this craft and made various products such as inlaid tables, chairs, screens, chest boxes, corners, chess boards, jewelry boxes, trays, elephants, trolleys etc. The soft farmers polished their skills and soon were recognized by the kings. 

Present Day: The famed Albert Hall museum in Jaipur displays rare ivory inlay treasures of Hoshiarpur dating back to the 19th century. 

Punjab is dotted with wood work centres. Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Amritsar, and Bhera are famed their wood inlay furniture.  Today, this craft  is practised in the areas of district Hoshiarpur : Village Bassi Gulam hissain, Boothgah, Adamwal, Rampur colony, tathlan etc.
Traditionally, the foliage pattern depicted trees. Now, they are complemented with landscapes.  The ban of ivory introduced acrylic to this craft.  This craft has also evolved to large products such as Coffee Table, Chairs, Dressing Mirror, Charkha, Almirah, Dining Table etc.

Procedure:  This wood art of Punjab is carried on very good quality wood i.e. Shisham wood. In certain products Teak and rosewood are also used.

Inlay technique involves engraving foliage patterns to form designs. They are inlaid with either acrylic, plastic, bronze or camel bones. Firstly, the design is traced on both wood and acrylic sheet using ink. The second step is called etching and I done with the support of sharp knives and chisels. This results in gaps in the wood. Mostly, two to three millimetres deep grooves of are created.

Post this, acrylic pieces are pasted inside the gaps made in the wood. The artisan, then cuts acrylic sheet using sharp tools. Then, these acrylic pieces are set in the grooves inside the wood. The craft item is smoothened with sandpaper and polished in lac. 

Bring Home Wood Inlays: Visit the by lanes of Punjab to buy these beautiful pieces of jewel 

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