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The Lost Land Of Afghanistan That I Found in Rome

March 22, 2019
Moody Mo

Flea markets world over has been my never-to-miss spot. As usual once in Rome I tried to follow the adage – be a Roman in Rome. I got my gladiator sandals out and decided to look for Al Capone on the streets. I found many with noses that could hold a hanger with my freshly ironed robes. And was amused at the confidence levels with which they charm the panties of a celibate. The Romans are loud, emotional, proud people with a daunting history that takes you back into time. The architecture lying in ruins throughout Rome reminds you of the history books you have read as a child. The paintings and the sculptures breathing life into their stone eyes and structure keep me spellbound for more.

Opposite the river bank on a Sunday noon, are tired and hopeful shopkeepers selling art, jewellery and pasta stalls. In the midst of all this, I find the city filled with migrant labourers from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and many more places. Selling their wares with the hope of earning a good future for their families. I always find myself drawn to people whose eyes have stories. As I navigate my path into the Flea market below a long winding staircase, I am reminded of the absolute genius of this country and it’s Neo-Realism films that have inspired so many artists. I am reminded of the genius of Vittoria Di Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and the many more films that have made me weep for the protagonists.

In this flush of weeping and awe of the city and its history, in a corner, I found an open stall with the most exquisite Afghani jewellery. The shop owner was a tall, burly man with a complexion that has traces of his Afghani Roots. His eyes are proud and he is selling not because he likes to sell but has to feed himself and his family. I find myself lost in his beautiful, intricate, stone inlay traditional jewellery. It is made up of German Silver and glass with enamel inlay floral designs.

He tells me his name is Ahmed and he is a Kuchi nomad. They are the nomads from the Ghilji tribal confederacy, the largest tribe called the Pashtuns from Afghanistan. He said the poorer families wear these silver pieces because the more exorbitant things are used for the Nikkah (marriage) and those are also made with floral and crescent moon designs.

Ahmed sold me his choice of jewellery and I couldn’t say no to his gaze of hope. He said it looked beautiful on me. Rome had taught Ahmed to be a Roman in Rome. Effortlessly flirting with women who thronged his space in the flea market.

I wear my Afghan tribal jewellery with much pride. It speaks of the resilience of the nomads who are not bound by chains of settling down. I can’t help but smile at the irony of life, we the settlers who are always unsettled in our hearts. Searching for the elusive spot of sunshine and security. Unlike the nomads, they live one day at a time.

The crescent moon on my necklace is one step away from its fullness. The tiny silver on its edge is illuminated by the glass pieces reflecting the sun rays. I imagine a bride in the finery of her Afghani resplendence saying “Kubool hai, Kubool hai” even if her heart says no. I had to have Ahmed’s story on my neck.

Accessories, Fashion Clothes, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition

A Classic Called The Angarakha

March 18, 2019
Moody Mo

When you feel vulnerable and think that you may lose your soul to this crazy thing called life. You protect yourself by listening to music that heals, or you indulge yourself till the thoughts are dimmed and what stays is the feeling that the universe is protecting you with compassion. As I listened to music, I tightened my Angarakha strings over my breasts, protecting my heart from more pain. The pain which I wish to forget and not go down that road again.  I have always been fascinated with the clothing from the Mughal era. It has the Ishq of a bygone era of opulence and craft. One such clothing is the Angaraksha also called the Angarakha, the other name is Jama.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “Angarakhsaka” which means protection of the body. It has over the years seen many variations on the ramp. The long and short of this shirt dates back to the 16th century Emperor Akbar. The first King who had the vision of uniting India on religion and culture. His clothes were a reflection of both the rich cultures, in the fusion of Indian dressing.

I recall falling in love with this garment since my school days. Watching Merchant Ivory’s Heat And Dust, and the white cotton unisex Angarakhas. It falls over your body, hugging the contours. You may loosen or tighten it based on the mood of the moment.

I recall the time I wore my first Chikankari Angarakha for my first date. I remember how he stared at my first flush of youth. Covered from prying eyes, yet revealed exactly what promise lay inside. A girl child blooming into a woman. He too was young, unsure of his ability to love and be confident of self.

An Angarakha to me is one of the sexiest garment created since time immemorial. It covers yet it reveals, exactly how style should be. It is an amalgamation of our experiences, of finding our own divinity among all the beautiful and ugly experiences we have gathered over the years. We are gatherers of stories, of our own lives and others experiences who visit this space in our lifetime.

Sonam Dubal captures my imagination of the fluidity of this garment in its totality.  I am drawn to his aesthetic as a designer. Drawing my experiences from the past to the present me. The little mirror work on the edges catches the light of the sun and reflects in my heart and soul.

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Tradition, Travel

The Opulence of Sangeeta Boochra’s Creations

February 13, 2019

Invaders since history have plundered and destroyed in a macho need to establish their identity. And while establishing identity of their separate culture they also have left footprints of their rich art and traditions. We witness the magic of resilience of the plundered citizens as they wipe away the fear, the devastation and yet retain the beauty of the raped remnants.

Mughal Era in our country saw the exodus of the art forms in clothing, architecture and art. Their opulent craftsmanship was introduced into the jewellery of the invaded Rajput Kings and Queens. Here you see the passing of guard where the creators were the subjugated common artisans. So many years have passed but the indelible mark of this vintage art is still coveted among the connoisseurs of jewellery wearers and makers from the region of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

Who could forget the simmering passion between Akbar and his Rajput Queen Jodha! She embodied the Mughal jewellery all over her persona making her beautifully broken yet resurrected with his love and her eventual surrender to Akbar.

Sangeeta Boochra’s brand is also an ode to the art of the Mughal Era. The multiple silver chain necklace settles on my heart chakra and I am reminded of this confluence of love with labour of the international Amazonite gem stones found in the rain-forest of Brazil, decorated with silver intricate motif flowers. The clasp is an influence from the tribal jewellery style of Rajasthan. As I wear this necklace I realise, we all grow up together, homogeneously with the gift from the rain-forests natural abundance of gemstones and the flower motif which represents the Hindu obeisance to the Goddess in you and me. The seamless sewing of different cultures into one common tapestry of art and craft leaves one amazed. The jewellery is her personal story of this diversity and of our common shared world culture.

Women adorning jewellery rich in art and craftsmanship will always be the point of attention among other women who gather and gossip in social get together. And the wearers eyes will betray the self love of indulgence as she wears this piece of conversation-starter jewellery, created by the artisans from the rich Shekhawati region of Rajasthan.

What kept me intrigued was the story of this young bride who entered the Boochra household. They were jewellery makers since many years. It took her enterprising father-in-law to notice her curious eyes and he knew he had found his art inheritance. He encouraged his young “Bahu” to step out of the kitchen confines and enter the world of male-dominated industry of jewellery designing. Sangeeta found her artistic anchor in her new found passion of jewellery making. Today, the brand boasts of celebrities and Heads of States who have adorned her creations. As you hear her story, you believe that a father-in-law can also be a mentor and it takes a real father figure to do that. Sangeeta remains eternally grateful for this inheritance of art and business.

Just as they would say in the Shekhawati dialect, “Ma Thane Ghano samman Desyu” which translates to“I give you great respect” for restoring the magnificence of the royalty and making it available for all of us.

Re-emergence is refreshingly soulful in this Mughal inspired necklace. I could have more and more of Sangeeta Boochra in my collections.

 

#Mughalart #Jewellery #designer #SangeetaBoochra #Indianjewellery #silverneckpiece #tradition #Rajasthan #shekhawati #royaljewellery

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion

Ruh By Dhwani Bansal

February 1, 2019

I rushed through the morning traffic to meet an artist, jewellery designer Dhwani Bansal. And I can tell you while navigating through Bangalore traffic, you need oodles of black coffee and calming music. Reaching the destination would remind you of a wrestling match between buses, autos and the ever hurrying human race. Finally, I reached looking a mess, to find a young girl called Dhwani, which means melody. She had the promise of passion in her eyes. A gentle demeanour and confidence of a girl who just got her style right. Her sensibility was evident in her designs. It was the nostalgia of her Rajasthani roots and her exposure to arts in London at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art.

Design that had an influence on her. I asked her about this specific necklace that she had designed with artisans from Jaipur. She called it Ruh. She didn’t realise she had got me there, that was my instant connect. Finding answers from that immortal purity of soul is Ruh in Islam and Sufism, she began telling me, with candour, about this collection that she called Ruh.

Ruh is an ode to the architectural integrity of the Islamic- Rajput structures seen across the arid deserts of Rajasthan. In those monuments and forts, you find a dialogue of the Ruh. It speaks of beauty, resilience, valour and the grandeur of this handcrafted piece. The necklace was designed in brass and completed in 18K gold. The opulence and the minimalism with intricate detailing was Dhwani’s ode to Ruh.

Every time I wear my Ruh necklace, I team it with my black dress for the evenings or a white for the morning. I know the filigree work in the dome-shaped jewellery is catching the light against my skin. I know the light is as transient as the start of a day and the end of a night.

This jewellery reminds me of a story of the Hindu Rajput queen who loved a Muslim soldier and stood behind the Jali window of the fort. She lived her life hidden behind the fort walls or her dupatta. She watched her desire through those gaps and knew that her Ruh would always belong to him. You have no control with that inner voice which guides you into your realm of consciousness. As you wear this necklace you are reminded of the words called Ruh Ki Ibadat, loosely translated as the surrender of the soul to its higher calling. Design and Art is a surrender to that creative space that we also call Ruh. Dhwani Bansal just nailed it right!

#DhwaniBansal #jewellerdesigner #handcrafted #modernjewellery #arts #Rajasthani #Ruhcollection  #necklace #filigree

Accessories, Indian Fashion, Tradition

The Lull On The Tranquil Dal Lake

January 28, 2019

Once you travel to J&K in India, you know there cannot be a more humbling experience than standing against those mighty pine trees. You look up to the mountains and realise you are a mere speck in the grand scheme of things of the Universe. I am dumbfounded as I realise all the hurt and the prejudices I have nurtured is actually stupid and inconsequential. Mountains teach us resilience, and as most poets and writers have quoted “if there is paradise on earth, it is here”.

Kashmiri cuisine, the shawls and the pheran are popular among the winter wardrobe fashion diktat of North India. The beauty of the Kashmiri women is known and celebrated all over. They are divided into the Pandits and the Muslims. You recognise a married Pandit woman with the Dejhoor in her ears. It’s is a beautiful gold earring that hangs delicately on her neck with a gold chain. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of jewellery that is worn by the Kashmiri Pandit women.

I navigated my way through the valley of Kashmir and was spellbound with the untouched beauty of the state. Naturally well-built men and women smile at you. Their porcelain complexion with blushed cheeks is a clear indication of the unpolluted air and water of the Dal Lake. This was the time when the Pandits and the Muslims lived peacefully in the valley. The evenings saw an exchange of Kahwa between neighbours, singing songs of the poetry of Kashmir and the flowers of the valley. But whoever says anything is permanent. The valley renewing its shaky history of wanting to be free from India. The once peace-loving Kashmiri was scared of her own neighbour. The tea shared with Muslim neighbours started to change to hatred. Slowly, the Pandits started leaving the valley. They left their homes, their pride and belongings. Looking back seemed daunting. And the once peaceful valley resonated with gunshots and Pakistani flags being hoisted from buildings. The curfew, gunshots, dead bodies of young men were the norm. Media was abuzz with crying mothers, wives and children over the death of their loved ones. Those rosy cheeks were covered in tears. Delhi saw an exodus, once again, with the Kashmiri Pandits fleeing their home state into the makeshift refugee camps.

I accompanied my Kashmiri friend into the refugee camps with blankets. The exodus of people having lost their humanity and living as rats huddled together in those camps. I tried hard to swallow my tears, but it wouldn’t stop. I still recall a pregnant woman with the Dejhoor in her ears wanting to tear it off.  She wished she never returned to the valley to get married to the man her parents had chosen for her. She was living in London and returned to this future. I had no words for her pain of having lost her freedom, her space and her ability to be free.

It has been years since I left Delhi and only a few years back found large homes in Pamposh Enclave where the Pandits were giving plots to restart all over again. I saw those homes and knew there was a pain in each of those bricks that had been used to build a life all over again.

I searched for the Dejhoor in silver and something that did not require me to pierce my cartilage to put it on. And voila at an exhibition I found the silver clip-on Dejhoor. I wasted no time in picking it up, then spoke to the designers who had created it. They reaffirmed it was a Kashmiri influence.

My silver Dejhoor signifies the collision of the mind and the heart. I can’t reach out to the lost young pregnant woman who wanted to tear her Dejhoor in those moments of despair. But, I know that all of us women are bound with beautiful adornments and sometimes we are prisoners of it. Yet we all seek freedom.

 

#Kashmir #traveldiaries #KashmiriPandits #Dejhoor  #traditionaljewellery #refugee #nature #DalLake #tranquil #beauty

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion

Allure For Aluminium

January 23, 2019

Remains and ruins are beautiful. We travel across the globe to bask in the beauty of the remains of a culture, that has been buried in the debris of time. We may not give enough artistic credit to spaces which has the remains of a modern structure made of aluminium, cement, sand and stones. Yet artists all over have found inspiration in a messy mesh of wires, that speak a story that only the creative mind can hear.

I have found art in the unfinished structures, where wires are gnawing out of the brick and mortar. Sometimes a half done project tells you a story that the reader wants to create its own ending. It’s like a Kafkaesque moment! Boxes cannot box you, in fact, it urges you to break free from the lines carved around it.

I am drawn to the Brazilian artist Monica Krexa’s aluminium minimalist necklace. As I held it against my skin, I was wondering what would she be thinking while designing this piece. It’s alluring, yet restrained. I may not be able to travel the world to collect memorabilia but to quench that need, to find a style which matches your sensibilities is the ever hungry creative space like Scarlet Sage. They curate uncommon jewellery from across the globe. Sanjana of Scarlet Sage is not from Bangalore, but you find her pieces in Verandah, one of the most eclectic stores in the Garden City.

This necklace is a contemporary piece of jewellery. Monica Krexa uses aluminium by pure chance. The first bracelet was made by wires that she found in a building. The malleability of aluminium and its sheen adds to the minimalist artistic creation. It is a sustainable endeavour because being ecologically correct, aluminium can be recycled easily. The very use of this material is a philosophy of life, where the aesthetic appeal of the product is retained along with the lightness and durability. This does not darken with sweat or reacts to your skin, making it functional yet artsy. This necklace was her first piece as a new and upcoming designer.

As I wear my necklace, it settles on my bare cleavage. I know that this geometric design is going to be appealing only to a wearer who can differentiate between art and a mere accessory. Today, I wear this with elan. I know I carry the sensibility of an artist, who found art in the forgotten spaces of structures. I know that design and creativity are not born every day, to find magic in the mundane is an ephemeral moment. Suddenly, you are awestruck with beauty that arose from the debris around you. You find magic in that wire which can be shaped anyhow you wish it to be. Gold can be gaudy, silver can be a statement but sometimes aluminium is the answer.

#aluminiumallure #fashionjewellery #MonicaKrexa #shopScarletSage #TheVerandah #globalfashion #artwork #artists #necklace #contemporary jewellery

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Tradition, Travel

Story On A Scroll

January 4, 2019
Pattachitra

As you travel to West Bengal, the art form can be distinguished by the identity of each district. You have the Bankura Horses, the Phulia taant, the Kantha embroidery, the Baluchari and so on, the list is endless. What stays entrenched is the kitschy art form called the Pattachitra. This is a cloth based scroll painting that is known for its intricate details as well as the mythological narratives and folk tales inscribed on it.

Today, Pattachitra artists have found recognition internationally. Apart from painting in scrolls they have, in a very minuscule way, started creating clothing with the same art form in stoles and dupattas.

The excellent play of colour is part of rural Bengal and there is a controversy regarding the dates of the ancient patuas. This art form dates back to the Pre Pala period and is still tucked away in small villages of Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia and other parts of 24 Parganas.

The colours are dense and natural. They represent the cultural traditions of creating Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Every Pattachitra has a song attached to it and the Patuas sing to you songs of folklore.

I felt the songs of Pradip Patua sear into my being. The innocence of his eyes. His folded jeans over his ankle and his rubber Bata chappal were telling me a story. His story of having walked miles in search of lost souls who could drown in his village tunes. He said, “don’t buy anything, just hear me sing”. How could I deny him his occupied space in my heart. I knew I would drown into his story of struggle about making his songs live through his art. He was simple to the point of it being a fault.

That evening, I returned to my urban space of artists, city slickers who all know how to negotiate a price for their art. I found myself feeling suffocated among the arrogant aware.

Pradip Patua stays with his innocence and I pray he finds a person who will open up his art and world. And he never needs to request anyone to listen to his songs ever.

I told him the world is round and the universe has a strength that we can’t comprehend. In that sphere he will find his space under the sunshine and his Pattachitra colours will burn bright into an endless prism.

As he folded his canvas I saw him smile at me. Unsure yet with a stoic gaze of an artist. I knew that look from deep inside of my being. It was of hope and wanting freedom from the clutches of poverty.

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Own Life Story, Tradition

Clips For The Hair Knot

December 24, 2018
Hair Clip

Most of the women I knew from the memory of my sepia-tinted childhood, wore long hair & tied them in a high bun fastened with a pin or a long braid that fell over the back like a snake. Hair was the beauty accessory that you flaunt during family gatherings and festivities. On weekends they washed their hair and let it loose to dry.

It was a vision of beauty combined with subdued sensuality. Those days, you are not allowed to express your sexuality with too much candour. I still recall my grandmother rebuking me to do my hair in a long braid tied at the ends with ribbons. It was an unspoken rule to keep everything in control, your desire, your thoughts, your voice, your consent and not to forget your tresses.

And it was one of those gentle summer evenings, the rain god was threatening to break into a thunderous revolt. I heard that Mrinalini Di had an artist guest visiting her. He was adept with his hands in creating jewellery and filigree work. He had done magic with silver and gold. Mrinalini had never met him & told me that I hope it’s not too long and arduous to spend time explaining the design concepts. She seemed unsure of her decision to invite him over.

I was spending my summer with them. Mrinalini was my Pishi’s daughter. Pishi in Bengali is your father’s sister. And pishi was the matriarch who everyone looked up to. Mrinalini was confident and had an easy pleasant personality with a rare combination of wit, creativity and charm. To her trepidation, the day dawned & the rains were torrential. There was a knock on the wooden doors. He stood in the doorway with a small bag, reticent but with the confidence of an unspoken journey that had marked his face. He was handsome with his gentle demeanour.

He shyly smiled at me. I was only 15 and I flashed him my grin. Mrinalini took his bags in and asked him if he wanted tea. He politely said yes. That evening we sat quietly eating dinner. Post dinner I said my goodnight. Strangely that night I saw Mrinalini was disturbed with his all-encompassing creative energy around her. She wished it would end soon. But I knew this looked like a long-term plan from above for Mrinalini. The universe had wished her this.

Silver Hair Pins

Silver Hair Pins

 

Next morning he showed her the silver pins he had designed. He gave her the pins & said it would look nice on a woman’s hair knot. Mrinalini was uncomfortable in his presence because it was gently coaxing into a dormant desire in her, to learn more about him and his art. She tried to spend as little time as she could away from him. But desire is like an unhindered river that gushes without any warning. It envelopes you and gnaws with an annoying uncontrollable force reminding you that your spirituality lies inside that warm heart in each of us. That sometimes becomes cold with life experiences. It’s like that wild river waiting to find its embankment and nourish all the flowers growing at its edges. It’s called the water of life.

Mrinalini decided to show him the house. They walked into a room and he was explaining to her about art and the different mediums of colours on canvas. He told her about Gustav Klimt and his favourite painting of the kiss by Klimt.

Mrinalini turned around to look into his eyes. He held her and kissed her with a passion that even my 15-year-old heart could fathom. That Mrinalini had found her embankment in his hands and his spirit. He took the pins out from his pocket and adorned her hair knot. He held her and touched her like a work of art. I watched Mrinalini’s face and the shine in his eyes. I shut that door and left them both together. He was so close yet so far from her reality of who she had become.

He left in two days & I never asked her whatever happened to him. Mrinalini wears those clips and some days looks lost, and when I ask her, why she is sad? She told me that “ I untied my long tresses to feel abandon and I can’t be free again. Those pins jab me into reckoning that what we desire in life remains unrequited”.

This beauty of unrequited love and Klimt in the corner of her room stares back into me long after Mrinalini left.

I know the hair knot will remain untied from within, but to the outside world, Mrinalini remains the charming, controlled beauty who tasted the beast of hell. Burnt in that desire and knows that being hindered is the only way ahead. However arduous that may be.

 

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Tradition, Travel

Revival Of Leather Crafts From Calcutta

December 20, 2018
Leather Handbag

Passing by the closed leather tannery in Calcutta, my heart sinks for the closed factories and the character of the distinctly Chinese settlement of Tangra on my way to the airport. I could feel the memory of the odour of leather permeating my senses & into my nostrils. The odour of the past when I lived in Calcutta. I saw buildings close to each other and large sheets of weathered leather being tanned. I often thought what would become of the finished leather. Would India ever be able to compete with the international standard of coveted world-class products. I know India has all the raw material but the lacks the endorsements it requires to create a product that the world would desire to pay the price it deserves.

Nostalgia is my companion, it keeps me warm on days I feel I the cold around my soul like a companion you nurture over the years. This transaction that life has to offer in our companionships, was always my gnawing thought of how life happens and your concept of relationships change over time. I realised that some inanimate things remain our companions forever. I love the Spanish term Kompanero which is a companion. So when I look back at the friendships I lost, my things that didn’t stay the same. A thought occurred to me about how some daily accessories are like a comfort pill in our lives. I never leave home without saying bye to my dog and my handbag. This is my kompanero. It holds my hidden notes of the fragility of my relationships. My lipstick, my book, my money and my other knick-knacks for the day.

My head is filled with so many jumbled up memories of the city I left years back. I suddenly realised I had time before catching my flight and sit in the Calcutta airport to catch my connecting flight back home. As I passed the stores and men sitting and sipping beer with a familiar bonhomie. My eyes were hooked to a store inside the cacophony of aeroplanes taking off and landing.

Leather Handbag

Leather Handbag

I saw the term Kompanero written in bold on a store. I was automatically moving towards the entrance to be greeted by a gentle Bengali salesman. He didn’t push to buy and I was relieved. I searched every rack and loved them all.

Suddenly there was this brand of bags in India, it was international in its style and extremely good quality leather. I had found my eyes blazing on every rack. The salesman told me that they have 50,000 sq ft of space in Calcutta, where they produce these bags. The local craftsman is being employed to sustain this culture in Bengal. It is intricate the work. The leather has a distinct distressed look and is created to perfection.

I sighed as I held one of the absolute gorgeous craftsmanship in my hand and felt the softness of the leather and its subtle branding that wasn’t shouting out loud but was absolutely done to perfection. I didn’t want to check the price tag and was pleasantly surprised at the cost. It was competitive without being too pricey. I pulled out my card, did the payment and was proud to have my Kompanero on my shoulder. I didn’t pack it in its cloth bag but emptied out the contents from my bag into my Kompanero.

It gets attention every time I carry it around. The fashionable lunching ladies ask me which international brand is this bag? While feeling the leather and discreetly trying to read the brand.

I smile and tell them. It’s my companion and it’s called Kompanero. It started in Bangalore and now is found all over Europe and in UK too. And yes it is made in India.

Look no further, you have so many brands in India with the excellence a connoisseur would search in their wine or cheese. Kompanero is superbly stylish and crafted to perfection. Your bag is your secret holder. Stuff in your ego inside your bag and carry it over your shoulder or across your tummy. It will always add and not reduce. I love it with all my heart and soul, my Kompanero, my companion forever.

 

Accessories, Indian culture, Indian Fashion, Lifestyle, Tradition, Travel

Love For Lac

December 10, 2018
Lac Bangle

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.