Meenakari is a popular art of embellishing the metal surfaces with beautiful colors that enhance the overall look of the design. This art form was highly acknowledged by both the Mughals as well as the Hindus of Rajasthan who really liked the touch of Meenakari in jewelry and other precious items. During the olden times, Gold was the most popular metal used for Meenakari as it blended well and looked pretty as well. Later on silver also became a popular mental and mostly used in preparing bowls, art pieces and other stuff.  A third metal which became popular was copper as the Gold Control Act did not allow the Meenakars to use gold in any form. Thus more metals were introduced to continue with the decorative work.

During the early times, Meenakari was not so popular among the people because it was more common in Kundan jewelries but later on it gained a lot of popularity with people looking some unique designs.

Meenakari is a unique kind of art that requires expertise and only done in Rajasthan as well as northern parts of India. Enameling a metal is known as Meenakari and only experienced artists can do it. This form of art came to India when the Mughals came here from Persia during the 17th century.  The Meenakari art received a lot of appreciation and reached its peaks at the time of the Qajar dynasty (1795-1924). It was Raja man Singh`s (r.1590-1614) who brought this art form to Rajasthan. The Mughals also brought experienced meenakars from Lahore and made Jaipur as one of the centers for the meenakari art.


The Meenakari art usually belongs to the Soni caste which forms a part of the Kshatriyas. They are also known as Verma or more popularly as the Meenakars. It is a hereditary work which is mostly carried forward by the sons; therefore it is quite difficult to find other people getting involved in this work. Developing a small Meenakari work can take a long time as it passes through a number of steps before finally taking its new look.

Meenakari is not only ideal to create traditional jewelry but nowadays you will come across many modern products also use to create decorative pieces like vases, key chain, wall pieces, bowls and lots more.


The work of Meenakari was first started by Nacquash, Chitera and then followed by goldsmith (Sonar, Swarnakar), the designer (Kalamkar, Khodnakar), polisher (Ghotnawala, Chiknawala), enamellist, stone-setter (Jadia, Kundansaaz) and stringer who formed a good team of craftsmen and created beautiful finished products.  But due to lack resources, the artisans became expert in different areas and started handling many responsibilities of their own. This is how the trend of Meenakari started with people liking the products to a great extent.

The process started by initially engraving the metals with attractive designs and then adding color to enhance the overall look of the metal. Later on a Meena is placed on the metal so that it can fuse well and become hard enough to stick to the metal surface. Once the design is ready, the surface is now cleaned with lemon and tamarind so that the surface shines and looks just beautiful. Enamel colors usually consist of metal oxides which are mixed with powdered glass while the oxide is responsible to add a shade to the metal. The yellow color is prepared from potash, blue shade comes from cobalt oxide, violet shade can be obtained from manganese, brown from red oxide and green from copper oxide. Other shades like white or ivory can be obtained through a mixture of potash, zinc carbonate and hydrated iron oxide. When it comes to applying the colors, the hardest one is selected first and rest following it. Before coloring the metal surfaces, it has to be cleaned so that it reflects the true colors. The firing temperature is set to 850 degrees Celsius. The colors come from Amritsar and sometimes from France and Germany.

Enamel is also a specialized form of art that was done in different centers of India and every center had its own technique of doing it. Lucknow was popular for the blue or the green Meenakari which was done on silver and Banaras was famous for the pink or gulabi meena. Other areas where enameling was done are Kashmir, Kangra and Bhawalpur. But still Delhi and Jaipur remained to be the top places where Meenakari was done in full form. Therefore there were many enamel specialists in different parts of India who worked hard to come up with unique stuff that would catch the attention of the people.

Meenakari Jewellery

The Meenakari jewelry consists of the precious stones which are added to the metal surface and later enameled through gold. This art was unknown to the people of India but Raja Mansingh brought this art form and then many experienced artists started doing it. He called the best artisans from Lahore and the local craftsmen as well and this how a new art form known as Meenakari was introduced before the people. It is a specialized work and requires a lot of effort as well as team work. The meenakar cannot alone create a lovely jewelry unless they are supported by goldsmiths, ghaaria, jadiya and chitteria.

As it is a bit typical to involve into Meenakari, therefore it is very important that the artisans have a technical hand so that they are able to get familiar with its process. In order to create a new design, first the metal piece is put on the lac stick and then any kind of design is created or engraved. The design can include the pattern of a fish, a flower or a bird. Once the design is engraved, it is time to fill colors which is done through the enamel dust. The metal surface is now brought closer to the metal so that the colors melt and take their place.  The same is done for every color used in the design.

While coloring, it is important to ensure that the hardest color is used first and fired. As soon as the design is complete, it has to be cooled so that the colors settle down and then the metal is polished. The grooves look just fabulous when it is filled colors that augment the design. The color combination depends on the artisans but with silver, colors like green are just apt as it sticks easily. In case of gold, you can use any color as it has the ability to stick with any shade. That is why gold is the preferred metal for Meenakari.

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