Know Why Only 11 Families In India Are Pursuing Thewa Art And Its Manufacturing Process
Being a Rajasthani who grew up with an extended family and grandparents, traditions and customs from our ancestral land were a regular discussion around the home. This was a very insightful medium for me to understand the various traditional forms of art and culture in interesting stories and therefore the artistic Thewa Art as not unknown to me. I was fascinated by how this art celebrated the local stories of Rajasthan in their jewellery and accessories.
Thewa is a traditional art that originated in Pratapgarh, Rajasthan and has been passed on for generations in the Rajsoni family. The Rajsonis are extremely proud of preserving this ancient Indian art form that is a huge part of their family tradition as well. Currently, there are only 11 people who are practicing this art in the entire country.
Even though the detailed process of this art is a very well-guarded secret, I was able to get an overall understanding of how the art is built from Mr. Arpit Kumar Rajsoni when I met him at the Craft Pavilion organized by Gem and Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI), at India International Jewellery Show (IIJS) in August 2019 hosted in Mumbai.
Let me assure you that this following list will not do any justice to the amount of precision and hard work that is put into every piece of jewellery or accessory that these artisans create, this is only to give you a glimpse of how this tradition stayed true to its process all these years.
- Silver wires are used to form the main outer frame (called Wada) or the shape of the jewellery desired
- Paper-thin 23 karat gold sheets are soldered into this frame to form the base of the jewellery
- Terracotta pieces mixed with specific chemicals are used to create a lac-resin base
- The base metal framework is fixed onto the warm lac-resin base to allow a strong grip for the artwork
- All the fine etching is hand-crafted on the gold sheet with pointed steel tools
- Once the etching is completed, the excess gold is removed from the metal framework to showcase the intricate designs inscribed
- Once the excess of gold is scraped off, the frame is stripped from the lac-resin by slightly heating it
- The design is then filled with a black paint spread into the hollows of the design. This process ensures that the gold inscriptions shine through the base of the black paint
- Once completed, the jewellery is fixed with a Belgium glass (in a color of choice) in similar shape and size as the jewellery piece via glass fusing process
Mr. Arpit mentioned that almost everything, right from the design to the constituents are customizable but they do recommend using 23-karat of gold sheet for the art as it stays unaffected for over 100 years.
About GJSCI: Gem & Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI) is the nodal entity for skill development of the Indian Gems & Jewellery industry. It covers skilling under all the areas and functions of the industry such as diamond processing, colored gemstone processing, jewellery manufacturing, wholesale, retail and exports.