Crafts of Punjab Ethnic Arts & Crafts Ethnic Wood Crafts

Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमःॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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Stunning Wood Inlay Work From Hoshiarpur In Punjab – An Article by By Shubham Mansingka in Culture Trip

What does the funny name ‘Dabbi Bazar’ bring to mind? It has the most delicately carved incredible treasures in-store. Although it’s just a narrow lane, it is full of beautiful and exquisite wood art on display.

Hoshiarpur, a bustling town with lush green fields, lies in the northeastern part of the colorful Indian state of Punjab and is popularly known as the ‘city of mangoes.’

It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, in the lower Shivaliks, and shares boundaries with two districts of the lush green Himachal Pradesh.

257. Hoshiarpur Ivory Inlaid Box, India, c. 1880 | Decorative boxes,  Jewelry dresser, Box
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Storage box

What exactly is the art of wood inlay craft?

Wood inlay craft originated in Hoshiarpur about 300 years ago, and ivory was originally used until it was banned altogether in 1989. Farmers in their off-season experimented with this art due to seasonal work of farming, and in due course of time, they became masters of the craft.

Various products such as inlaid tables, chairs, screens, chest boxes, corners, chess boards, jewelry boxes, trays, elephants and trolleys and several other items of everyday use are easily spotted in Dabbi Bazaar.

The artists became so skillful that many of them were recognized by the kings and have been subsequently awarded with laurels by the Government of India.

Imitation Ivory Inlay of Hoshiarpur – Studio.Clock.Works.
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Round table

The wood of Shisham tree, a very high quality wood, is normally used in this wood art of Hoshiarpur. Teak and rosewood are also used in some products.

When you enter, your eyes will wander around the shops, amazed with the carvings and various paintings. The shopkeepers are friendly and will guide you to the workshops when they realize that you’re interested in learning more about the products and the ethnic craft.

Simply put, inlay is a technique of inserting pieces of contrasting colors into the hollow spaces to create a design. It involves engraving foliage patterns, and simple everyday designs are inlaid with either acrylic, plastic, bronze or camel bone.

Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Octagonal Table – Buy from WalMart

The first step is the tracing of designs. For tracing, the pattern to be inlaid is first drawn on a piece of paper. This pattern can be of floral or geometrical designs or traditional motifs.

After that, the drawn pattern is traced on both the wood and acrylic sheet using ink. After the patterns have been drawn, the wood is ready for the second step called etching, which is done with the aid of sharp knives and chisels.

This leads to the creation of grooves or gaps in the wood. Mostly, the grooves two to three millimeters deep are created, and the piece is then ready for inlay.

19thc Ivory Inlaid Hardwood Anglo Indian Table - Antiques Atlas
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Table (Octagonal)

The next and most crucial of all the steps is setting and subsequently pasting of acrylic pieces inside the gaps made in the wood. After creating grooves in wood, the artisan cuts the acrylic sheet with sharp knives on the traced patterns.

Now these small pieces of acrylic are set in the grooves inside the wood, and each piece is carefully glued to the wood. The piece to be inlaid is smoothened with sandpaper and polished in lac.

Ideally, the piece is covered with two or three layers of lac and is given a glazed finish as per the client’s requirement, which is the final stage of finishing.

New Matharu Ivory Art Emporium ::.. A renowned name in Wooden Inlay  Artefacts
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab

The procedure of wood inlay or Bharai (in Hindi) is not written down anywhere but is passed down from one generation to the next. This art is on the wane for lack of awareness.

Fabulous and Rare Antique Ebony Inlaid Teak Hoshiarpur Table - David  Griffith Antiques
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Round dining table

Sometimes, the final selling price of a particular piece is negotiated over Punjabi hospitality with a cup of tea and Samosas. However, we must keep in mind the painstaking and time-consuming work that goes into the creation of each piece. They’re truly worth the price.

Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Round stool

The wood products of Hoshiarpur keep popping up in the news, courtesy of auctions by reputed houses, even though the sale and purchase of ivory in any form has been banned by most governments across the world.

The famous Albert Hall museum in Jaipur also houses some rare ivory inlay treasures of Hoshiarpur from the 19th century.

Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Wooden safe
Wood inlay work of Hoshiarpur, Punjab : Oval table

How to reach Hoshiarpur

By Air: Amritsar, the nearest airport, is 125 kilometers away.

By Rail: Direct trains from Delhi to Hoshiarpur

By Road: Hoshiarpur has excellent road connectivity with Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir; it can be accessed via NH1 from Delhi.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Though academically trained in modern Western Sciences, Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar is a crazy maniac of India's ageless, timeless ethnic arts, crafts & textiles. The rich & glorious cultural & spiritual heritage of India is a subject extremely dear to her heart, and the whole of this Blog has been dedicated to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide, to every nook & corner of the globe, through these simple Blog-posts. Any constructive criticisms & suggestions in this regard for improvement of the Blog 'MOST WELCOME'. Also, High-Quality Guest Blog-posts 'MOST WELCOME". LinkedIn Profile :

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