Rosewood inlay work was ever practised in and around Mysore for many centuries in the past. This art-form had always enjoyed the patronage of the Maharajas of Mysore.
The intricate & awe inspiring Rosewood inlay work shows a marvellous refinement of workmanship. Diligent craftsmen smoothen the Rosewood and carefully etch designs depicting stories of the past on its surface.
Traditionally, in ancient times, craftsmen painstakingly assembled precious ivory to fit into the etched grooves. But today, due to the ban on ivory, craftsmen meticulously inlay woods of different colours, acrylic, shell or plastic to create these impeccable works of art with almost the same looks as ivory.
The craft of Rosewood inlay has evolved to satisfy modern trends & modern needs.
Rosewood doors, chests, mirrors, coffee tables, boxes, partition screens, cupboards, cabinets and dining tables decorated with mesmerizing inlay work are part of the wide range of Rosewood products available in the South Indian state of Karnataka that fit in harmoniously in modern day dwellings to fulfill today’s needs.
Mysore Rosewood Inlay covers a range of techniques used by artisans in around the area of Mysore in sculpture and the decorative for inserting pieces of contrasting, often coloured materials like ivory shells, mother-of-pearl, horn and sandalwood into depressions in a rosewood object to form ornament or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix.
These artifacts are manufactured in around the region of Mysore, these artifacts have been awarded Geographical Indication tag from the Government of India in 2005 due to its historic representation as an artifact depicting the region and the design and style used by the local artisans.
Rose wood mostly got about around from forestry area covering Mysuru regions has been used for furniture and artifacts from the time of Tipu Sultan about 1800s,
Tipu Sultan died perhaps on May 4, 1799, (looks like the art came from the Vijayanagar empire and was nurtured by the Wadiyar kings) was further promoted by local Mysuru maharaja during 1914 sent a casket with a photoframe with ivory inlay for British empire exhibition which won a gold medal, from then on have been a major touristic attraction and supply from the region around Mysuru.
Method of manufacturing
Rose wood, yellow wood and ebony are used as raw materials and designs depicting are carved into them after which various artifacts from paint to gold silver, plastic coated with hydrogen peroxide (instead of ivory), sandalwood are inlaid into the wood after carving depicting nature and Hindu mythological epic stories.
The Karnataka State Handicraft Development Corporation Ltd proposed the registration of Mysuru Rosewood Inlay under the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999, to the Office of the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, Chennai, in order to make it exclusive to the manufacturers of Mysuru Rosewood Inlays whose design and material represent region to use the name Mysuru.
It was granted the Geographical Indication status, three years later, in 2005
Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur was the 25th and the last Maharaja of the princely state of Mysore. During his reign artisan practiced several crafts including ivory inlay in rosewood, as rosewood was available in abundance locally.
Lately a Master Craftsperson of the craft ‘Shokat Ali’ brought a totally new evolution in the craft by using locally available wood of different colors to create wonderful art pieces.
These art pieces were well appreciated by the king and it was easy to learn and practice for the other people too. The unique material culture and simple technique brought the revolution in the world of art and craft and also in the life of people.
The artisans flourished with unique style in their products in Ivory & Rose wood Inlay craft.
To give rise to the crafts of Karnataka, the government has set up a Multicraft complex, a cluster which includes 480 houses built with the help from both central and state governments.
The government supported set-up provides living and working spaces for about 2000 crafts person and their families.
The procurement center set up by the government of Karnataka is a unit of ‘Cauvery’ Karnataka State Arts & Crafts Emporium that provides the artisans raw materials like Sandalwood and purchase craft objects from the artisans and market them through their own outlets at different parts of the state.
The organization conducts training programs sponsored by Development Commissioner of Handicrafts with the help of in-house design center and ‘Chamraja Technical Institute’, Mysore. It organizes Health camps for the artisan families, provides insurance to enrolled artisans.