Meenakari is the art of coloring the surface of metals by fusing over brilliant colors that are decorated in an intricate design. This was brought to Varanasi by the Persian enamellists around early 17th century during the Mughal era. Mina is the feminine form of “Minoo” in Persian, meaning heaven. Mina refers to the Azure colour of heaven.
The “Gulabi Meena” is a hallmark Meenakari enameling craft exclusive to the holy city of Benaras, known as Varanasi today.
This art is practices in many centers in India and each region specialized in its own variation of style and technique. In Lucknow the specialty of the Meenakars is blue and green enameling on silver, while in Banaras the dusky rose-pink or the Gulabi Meena is the dominant color.
This distinctive art form spiritual capital of India, Varanasi aka Benares is likely to join the desirable Geographical Indication (GI) club by this midyear. Earlier the famed Banarasi brocade and silk sari and Bhadohi carpet have obtained GI tag.
Varanasi glass beads, is also likely to get GI certification along with Gulabi Meenakari.
Kunj Behari Singh, a Meenakari artist stated that “earlier, Gulabi Meenakari was done on gold but now we use other metals like silver and copper.” Mr. Singh, is also the secretary of Sahbhagi Welfare Samittee that applied for GI registry in January 2013. “We are in this field for generations. In the past, the city had over 250 artisans of this craft but today only 50-60 people are engaged in it,” he bewailed.
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