Monday, June 27, 2011

Incredible India through my eyes- Lac bangles

I had a wonderful weekend with a group of friends at Dakshinchitra. 'Dakshinchitra' means a picture of the south. It is a cultural center which tries to showcase and preserve the traditional art forms , architecture and performing arts of the four Southern states ( Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). I have been there twice throughout my stay in Chennai so far but this time it was a beautiful experience. It was because I had lovely company who were in no hurry to rush through the beautiful artifacts in front of them. We paused to admire the musuems, the art forms and even interact with the artisans. I could write a lot more on Dakshinchitra but I wont and would save them for the later posts.

Something that captivates my attention everytime I land there is the lac bangles. I first saw them at IIT for Sarang the cultural festival where this lady put up her stall and mesmerised the womenfolk with her magical bangles. A little bit research on bangles revealed to me that this ornament worn on the hand originated from South Asia precisely India and was worn by Hindu women. Different states in India have different kinds and colours of bangles worn by women at different phases and occasions in life. Be it the green bangles of Maharashtra or the white bangle of West Bengal or the red bangles with stones studded all denote the symbol of being married. Many customs even requires a woman to break her glass bangles as a symbol of widowhood. Bangles of copper, silver, gold, glass, metal, plastic, rubber and lac are all worn in different parts of the country even today.

Lac bangles are made of Lac a resin collected from insects. It is a specialty of Hyderabad which is the city of bangles. But the stall I visited claimed lac bangles to be of Rajasthani origin. But it's a delight to watch your bangle being custom made in the shades you want. And the knot tied to join the ends of the bangle rather stick the ends gives it a personal touch. I have 4 of them since years and the look still the same with no chipped ends or faded looks. They are brittle and can break if you drop them which is why they are special to me and taken well care of. Here are some pics on how lac bangles are made.

The lac is at first heat on the coal and whatever colour is on it with soon change with the application of the dyes.

These are the dyes the colourful cakes attached to wooden rods. I am not sure what they are made of.

Once the lac is heated the dye is applied on to it in such an manner that when the lac is twisted later design like swirl would appear.

The lac is then flattened onto a board

It is cut into strips

Rolled to get the spiral effect

The edges are now joined and the the round shape is achieved using the rod onto which she moulds it according to the size of our hands

The bangles is then dropped into the water for cooling as it was heated before joining the edges. The knots as you can see in the picture gives it a beautiful touch. They can also be made without knots. I found it a beautiful experience watching my custom made bangles moulded for me that too for Rs 20 isn't that a delight. Incredible India through my eyes ......

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