Vibrant and elaborate, Meenakari jewellery is a gift that became an integral part of India thanks to the Persian empire. Meenakari originated in the Mughal period when Raja Man Singh of Mewar brought in a team of skilled artisans from Lahore to practice their style of art. Over the centuries, it became integrated in the art of Rajasthan, and now Meenakari is synonymous to Rajasthan’s rich artistic heritage, thanks to its Rajput patronage, especially in Jaipur.
With the base as copper, silver, gold and now, white metal, Meenakari designs are created from powdered glass that is coloured by different mineral oxides that boast a variety of shades. Moreover, the costlier pieces are also coloured by the use of precious and semi-precious stones. Meenakari goes through an intricate process of making that involved several groups of artisans. The designers or ‘Nacquash’ first make the creative design, which is then passed on to the ‘Sonar’ or goldsmith who moulds the base metal into his shape, the ‘Kalamkar’ then engraves the designs upon the moulded metal and passes it to the ‘Meenakars’ who enamel the mould. The ‘Ghotnawala’ then polishes the pieces and the semi-precious and precious stones are then set into the engraved spots of the mould by the ‘Kundansaaz’.
Finally, the ‘Patua’ strings the adornment to complete the look. Meenakari is a tribute of celebrating colours. Rich with greens, reds, blues and yellows, and often fitted with floral and avian designs, especially peacocks, Meenakari remains a customer-favorite across the years. Besides Jaipur, the hotspots for Meenakari designs are Banaras and Delhi.