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As you travel into Rajasthan you find women wearing the traditional lac bangles. These bangles are bright coloured designs that you find on the wrists of the desert women.
Lac is a resinous substance secreted by an insect called the Kerria Lacca. This insect hosts itself on the branches of the Peepal tree and forms an encrusted layer around it. The coated branches are cut sieved and washed to remove all the impurities. This natural seed lac is used to make bangles. The lac is mixed with stone powder and heated and carved over hot coal. Natural colours from vegetables are used to make them colourful.
The Manihar family is the traditional lac bangle maker and Iqbal Sheikh tells us his journey of travelling far and wide in taking this art form into the cites.
Iqbal doesn’t yet understand the preference of colours in cities and is still creating rural gaudy colour. But Iqbal is sharp and realises his next visit, he would create subtle colours in his bangle collection.
I hope we give artisans like Iqbal a place under the sun so that the Kerria lac insect and its creation is acknowledged and what is being offered as a gift for the wrists of the woman in you and me.
Lac is love between the tree and its inhabitants. As the numerous insects who climb and live on its bark. The Peepal tree nurtures the Kerria. For more resin and more bangles. Let the trees grow into branches, green supple leaves and flowers. The insects will find its nectar. The nectar in turn will nurture its reward of resin.
Like a woman who loves with all her heart and feels the magic of its emotion on her heart and soul. The lac is also a tedious labour of love of the bangle maker who travels through Rajasthan adoring the wrists of women from home to home.
Lac will lose its lustre if you cut trees and the shade it gives to the bangle maker who travels far and wide for his muse.