Meenakari or Minakari is the process of painting and colouring the surfaces of metals through enameling Meenakari jewellery. This technique has originated in Iran where it is a commercial art form. Meenakari art usually involves intricate designs and is applied as a decorative feature to serving dishes, containers, vases, frames, display ornaments and jewelry. The word meenakari has been derived from two words mina and kari. Mina means heaven or paradise and kari means to place something onto something else.
Iranian history has got proofs of enameling metal for ornamental purposes. However the meticulous ornamental work seen today can be traced back to Safavid Iran around the 15th century. In India, it is introduced by Mughals. Raja Man Singh of Mewar is regarded as the patron of the meenakari art in 16th century Jaipur. Due to his efforts, Jaipur became the hub of meenakari art with the influx of highly skilled craftsmen. In a few years, the talent of the craftsmen made the place a specialized center of meenakari designing.
The process of meenakari jewellery making is complex and requires great skills.
1.It starts with Designers (or Nacquash), with the after-help of goldsmiths (Sonar) creating the very initial design.
2.Then come the engravers (Kalamkars), who with the help of the enamelists (Called Meenakars) engrave the design on the metal surface with enamel colors.
3.Next up, the artifact is polished by the polisher (Ghotnawala), eventually to be passed on to the Stone setter (Kundansaaz).
4.At the end, the product goes to the stringer (Patua), doing the final bit of work in the tiring process of Meenakari.
5.First a metal is engraved with intricate detailing, and then the engravings are filled with enamel colors. The metal now is kept in a furnace (at an average temperature of 850 degrees Celsius), and the heat helps in the fusing and hardening of colors over the metal.
6.For the final touch, the piece is rubbed, and then cleaned with a mix of tamarind and lime. This helps in bringing out the luster of each color.