Jaipur's lac industry is booming
At one time, only bangles were made of lac; now, the cottage industry also includes ornaments, trinkets and gift items.Updated: Apr 11, 2007, 19:56 IST
It began in the 18th century in the narrow lanes of Jaipur's old city. Today, the lac industry is a booming business with its products finding their way to places as far away as Europe.
From the times when only bangles were made from lac, the products now include ornaments, trinkets and gift items.
Designs are aplenty, including necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings, bejewelled boxes, photo-frames and penholders.
"The industry has now reached international levels. Lac ornaments and other items are sent to Delhi from where they are exported to Europeans markets," said AS Jafar, a manufacturer.
"The industry started sometime in the 18th century in Maniharo Ka Rasta area. With the growing popularity of lac items, the area accounts for business worth millions of rupees now," he added.
Today, over 5,000 families in Jaipur are involved in the industry. Jaipur alone accounts for annual exports worth Rs.700-800 million.
In recent years, the industry has successfully broken away from its traditional image of making bangles to produce exquisite jewellery and gift items.
Several local artisans have even been awarded for their contribution and creative innovations. Yet, not many know that these artisans have to toil hard and long in difficult conditions to give shape to these designs.
"We have to work on hot furnaces where lac is melted. Working conditions are very harsh, especially during summer," said Kadir, another manufacturer of lac items.
But the artisans seem to forget about their hardships when they proudly begin to talk about taking the cottage industry to global levels.