Rajasthan is to be accorded due credit for being the heart of Meenakari art. Jaipur is where the master craftsmen came to; all the way from Lahore, in order to practice this enamelling technique and create beautiful adornments.
It is said, in 16th century Jaipur, Raja Man Singh of Mewar was recognized for his dedicated patronage to the Meenakari art. It was through his initiated backing that set this technique on the path destined for a glimmering future. As a result, within a short span of time, the talented craftsmen with their intricate yet highly specialised skills transformed Jaipur into a place renowned for Meenakari work.
The craftsmen are called Meenakars or go by Verma as well. They belong to the Sonar (Goldsmith) /Sohail caste of Kshatriyas. It can be looked at as a group effort; Meenakari work. It includes the expertise of a couple of individuals; the designer, the goldsmith, the engraver, the Meenakar, the polisher, the stone-setter and the stringer; to name a few.
This craft is hereditary in nature which means it isn’t very likely to be taught to others outside of the community. Keep it within the family, so to speak. Not to say that the technique isn’t known of; but practical knowledge trumps theoretical know-how in this case.
More on the actual Meenakari process in the next post!
(Images courtesy of Pinterest and Archive.org.)