History of lac
We find the Lac coated artifacts in the ancient excavations which can be dated back to 1600 BC which resonates to the Indian Bronze age. The exact time and region of its occurrence hasn’t been found. Besides having a long and glorious past in Indian culture, this craft work is still living in various pockets of India with different famous articles of those regions. The Lac jewelries of Rajasthan and Bihar, the Lac combs and lacquered bamboo of Orissa are some well know articles of Lac in the modern markets.
The term Lac is said to be derived from the English version of the rough number of insects (1 Lac or 100 Thousands) required accruing the wild resin from the tree. The occurrence of Lac is common in several Asian countries.
Uses OF Lac
Lac is a multipurpose material mainly known for its sheen, attractive colors and permanence. Though there are numerous uses of Lac in the household items, from the multicolored marble flooring to the lacquered walking stick and mats yet it’s primarily accepted for its decorative articles and eye-catching jewelries.
Processing of Lac
The resin of Lac is the prime ingredient of Lac craftwork. Being sticky, colored and semisolid in nature, Lac resin is a perfect binder. The bands and balls of different colors are arranged on a stick with sealing wax. Later, the stick is heated and designs are engraved on the bands and balls with a needle. Instantly after this they wrap the stick on a cool surface. The manual polish and varnishing of cool Lac provides shine and attractive appearance. The making of various articles may require some other elaborate steps.
Regional variations of Lac
Depending on the production of specific celebrated Lac articles, different regions of India can be clubbed. However, the guidelines of processing the Lac are almost similar with some minor difference depending upon the type article and its geometry.
Lac Craft of Northern India: The prevalence of Lac craft industries can be spotted from the North-western states of Punjab and Rajasthan to the Uttar Pradesh at the heart of North India. The Lac craftsmen have been catching pilgrims’ attention in the city of Varanasi since the patronage of Kashi Maharaj around 400 years back. However Bihar is the most renowned state of North for this craft. After squeezing the refuse Lac, they prepare bangles of Lac in the North Bihar while the better quality of Lac is used to craft other decorative pieces. Sursand of Muzaffarpur district is recognized for its beautiful and unique Lac coloring patterns. However, the trend of wearing Lac ornaments is rapidly reducing in the urban women of North, but still you can conveniently find an Oraon, Santhal, Bhumji or Munda tribal women with Lac ornaments.
Lac Craft of Eastern India: The industries of Lac craft are found in the various districts of West Bengal including Birbhum, Purulia, Elam, etc and also in Lohardugga district of Jharkhand. The Lac hair combs are the most alluring artifacts of these regions which are commonly used by local tribal communities. To prepare a comb, jungle Lac is coated over a soft wood with decorative motifs. Their unique designs and magnificent color schemes for bamboo boxes of jungle Lac outstands Koraput district of Orissa.
Lac Craft of Western India: In the western state of Gujtrat, Lac is primarily collected by Bhils from their forests of Ali Rajpur, Udaipur, Devgad Bariya districts. They sell the Lac to local grain dealers who in turn, to the town manufacturers. Consequently many families of Dohad and Jhalod districts get a wide field employment. Lacquered bracelets and wooden toys are the typical eye catchers of these regions. The cultural auspiciousness attached with Lac bangles among Rajasthani women represents their cultural closeness to Lac material. The attractive colorful bangles with zigzag designs and decorative multicolored glass pieces make them extraordinary amazing.
Lac Craft of Southern India: In the South of India, Karnataka and Telangana are two renowned states for Lac manufacturing. Mysore and Harapanhalli are the Lac craft hubs of South. The Lac ornaments and famous Lac Rajputana boxes are the hallmarks of this region. They are the charming dull ground boxes decorated with alternate colors. Chennapatna of Karnataka holds high relevance due to its world famous Lac wares. From the toys of babies to tea sets along with several other Lac items are crafted by the local diligent workers. A admired wide range of Lac show pieces and furniture like the set saints of India, band of musicians, elephants, engines, bedposts, cradle, etc. offers South India a special place in the Lac craft industries.
Thus, we can say that Lac is not only a highly useful material which survived through the changes of time but also an inseparable aspect of Indian culture. Its deep relevance in indigenous tribal cultures attempts to tell a story of man’s historic friendship with this craftwork.
Check our exclusive range of Lac trays and platters here.