CHAPTER I . JEWELLERY

Lac

Rajasthani lac bangles: 

believed to bring good premonition to those who wear them!

CELEBRATION ORNAMENTS

The Rajasthani marriage rituals require specific traditional ornaments and different festivals have different ensembles related to them. In fact, each celebration can be identified with a distinct style of bangle design.

The Gulali Choodha - the red coloured bangles and the Hare Bandon Ka Choodha - the green coloured ones, are used for weddings; the pink bangles are worn exclusively during Holi festival.

Bangles are always used in pairs, one in each arm. Women usually carry more than one pair of bangles, to which they add other pairs of other styles, but always an even number.

A MATERIAL TAKEN FROM INSECT RESIN

Crimson red, plant sucking, tiny insects such as Laccifer Lacca, Carteria Llacca and Tachardia Lacca colonize the branches of selected species of host trees and secrete a natural scarlet resin known as Lac.

The different layers of resin residue on the branches of the host trees are scraped off, crushed, sieved and washed several times to remove impurities. This Lac, is further heated so that the impurities settle down and can be removed easily.

To this molten Lac, which is originally brick red in color, the bangle makers add wax (to increase the cohesiveness), titanium (to increase the volume) and sometimes coloring agents.

THE PROCESS

The process of making lac jewellery is complex and requires great precision. Glass beads, flower shaped mirrors and decorative wire are also used for the enhancement of  the items beauty.

Lac bangles consist of an inner-core that has a covering of thin layer of superior quality lac. Core lac, when mixed with a similar material to white clay, strengthens the bangle. The heating, mixing, kneading, and hammer pounding of the parched ingredients takes place repeatedly and dough like mass is formed.

Once this mass is heated, it's shaped and the expansion of the lac takes place - this results in the bangle thickening. Further, a flat-shaped tool is used to roll the bangle across the flat surface, giving it a proper thickness. The shaping is done by suppressing the length of lac into coloured grooves on every side of the mold, then the lac takes the groove shape into which it is forced. The lac pieces are then kept aside for drying.

The jewelleries are embellished, usually by the women members of the family, with beads, mirrors, pearls and semi-precious stones - picked up one at a time and stuck on the lac piece.

LAC JEWELLERY

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Lac jewellery has its originis in Rajasthan (India) and has gained today considerable popularity in the whole country.

It's available in versatile designs and among the various possible items the bangles are the most known ones. Lac bangles are of bright colours and Rajasthani people believe they bring good premonition to those who wear them.

The word bangle is derived from a Hindi word Bangli meaning glass. Various metals like bronze, copper, gold and silver have been used to make bangles throughout centuries, but the art of making lac bangles is unique to India.

This natural resin and its Laksha Taru (the Lac tree) have been referred in ancient Indian texts as the Vedas.

This prominent craft of Rajasthan was initially developed by tribal people of the state and is now a furor in urban India. A good chunk of the jewellery is exported to outside world, which in turn provides more employment and inspires improvisation in design and pattern of jewelry.

Lakhera or Laheri  is the traditional artisan community that has been involved in lac bangle making in India.

ANCIENT GOOD OMEN - TRIBAL TO URBAN

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