(Last Updated on : 07/05/2015)
Lac crafts of Gujarat are the creative excellence of the artisans who are involved in this work. The craft offers copious variations that are used by the local people and are of great demand.
The local artisans as well as some of the tribal communities of vadas in the Nirona region of Kutch are engaged in creating lac articles in Gujarat. The lac items including rolling pins, legs for beds, chairs and tables are made in hard mango wood covered with red, black, yellow and green lac colours. Highly decorative graphics are used by the artisans to etch onto the coloured parts with the help of a chisel. The Banni area of Kutch has a distinctive style of their own and is renowned for the household items like bread rollers, spoons, churners, oil containers, legs for beds and wooden spinners. Sankheda which is a small village about 80 km from Baroda in Gujarat is known for being the centre of the lac craft for centuries. The artisans of this area are deft in creating various items from lac with the brilliant use of vibrant colours and designs. The work is done on country-wood which gives darker shades. The coating is done with fine lac. The craftsmen follow the same process of lacquering that is followed in other states and apply lac on the round and flat areas of the items. Then the items are given a cast of violet dye and over that an emulsion prepared from 'kalai' or tin is used to paint the designs. The created items are then given a shiny appearance by polishing with a hard stone called 'akik'. This process is followed by imparting a transparent lacquer coat with a lacquer stick. Thereafter the 'kalai' work is done to give the item a fiery golden-yellow effect. The artisans use floral and geometrical patterns and sometimes a combination of both designs on the lac items and this fusion is termed as the 'atishi' style of lacquering among the local people.
The lac crafts of Gujarat have reached the pinnacle due to the prevailing traditional and social customs. There is an age long tradition among the local people of presenting the bride with lacquered items including the cradle, square seats that are used for religious ceremonies, trays, boxes, dishes, utensils, cutlery, vases, bangle stands, lamp bases, chairs, beds legs, sofa sets, agarbathi holders and toys. Apart from these, lac is used for making excellent toys that are created in Mahuva and Idar in Gujarat. The folk people of some areas in Gujarat are engaged in lac craft. The women folk of Saurashtra prepare different lac crafts including idols, toys, ash-trays, toilet-boxes, lamp-stands and flower-pots from the pulp of rags, banana stumps and bamboos. In addition to these, lac is used in wooden furniture in the southern Gujarat. Sankheda, near Vadodara, is appraised for creating different outstanding patterns with lac on wooden furniture. The craftsmen follow a particular process for creating designs on wooden furniture and this process is followed by painting them with floral and abstract designs in bright hues of gold, silver, maroon, green, vermilion, and brown. Colouring and designing are done with the help of sticks which are dipped in the blend of dyes, powdered zinc, lac and resin. Apart from Sankheda, some other regions of Gujarat like Surat and Kutch are also well known for making exclusive wooden furniture with lac designs.
The lac crafts of Gujarat have the distinct quality and style that are displayed on the creations. The local people and the craftsmen as well have a full dedication in making the craft items discernable.