Kutch Lacquer Craft
Kutch Lacquer Craft is another example of the vibrant and amazing crafting skills that is inherent in the simple rural folk of the region. This beautiful craft form is unique and distinctive with its characteristic kaleidoscopic, zig zag patterns that emerge as coloured lacquer is applied to wood with heat as it is turned around with a hand lathe. The craft is practiced using simple tools like a self-made lathe, a string attached to a bow, and sticks of coloured lac. The process begins with crafting the raw wood into the desired product after which, artisans apply lac on the wood while it is being turned on the lathe. During this process, the artisan deftly manoeuvres the lacquer colour to create the beautiful psychedelic patterns by hand. The heat generated in the process makes the lacquer melt due to the constant friction and allows it to stick to the surface of the wood. Finally, the piece is given a glossy polish with oil. Generally, the wood used is Babul wood, native to the region. This craft form is today practiced by only a few traditional lacquer artisan families - the Vadhas, a nomadic community from the region found only in Kutch. The artisans create a wide range of products from this craft varying from spoons and ladles to toys and other utility articles. Traditionally, the lacquer was coloured with vegetable dyes. Now, artisans use brightly coloured chemical dyes.