The Ancient Art of Making Lac Bangles
After a whole day of exhausting sightseeing in Jaipur, I reached the hotel to get some rest. As I rushed past the polite reception staff to my room, I noticed this man working at his craft in a rather dimly lit area of the hotel. I walked up to him and glanced at the beautiful bangles that were placed next to him. He looked up and smiled and asked if I was familiar with the craft. My interest was piqued and I watched as he began his demonstration on Lac Bangle Making. He introduced himself as Ikram Ahmad Khan and explained that his family has been making lac bangles for nearly 300 years. I was intrigued by the process and what followed next was an interesting conversation spanning ancient Indian art, mythology and the Queen of Britain !
The art of making lac bangles is unique to India. These bangles are considered auspicious in several parts of India and are worn during special occasions and festivals. Lac is a natural resin which is secreted by a bug Kerria Lacca. The lac can be cultivated on few of the host trees such as Kusum. Farmers get a stick that contain the insect eggs that are ready to hatch and tie it to the tree to be infested. The bug Kerria Lacca sucks out the sap of the tree, digests and secretes out the resin which is the famous Lac.
Lac is derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksha” which means 100,000. The mention of Lac even dates back to the era of Mahabharata where a Lac Palace is built by the Kauravas to trap and eliminate the Pandavas.
As I curiously watch the process, Ikram shares memorable experiences and anecdotes from few chapters of his life. It was indeed a chance encounter to meet this skilled artisan who proudly presented his craft. It is sad that in-spite so many efforts from the government, this traditional craft is slowly dying. I carried a lac bangle that Ikram created along with our conversation as a souvenir from Jaipur.
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