Sankheda Furniture of Gujarat

 

 

Sankheda furniture has a very typical beauty of its own. It is made in very distinctive colors of golden, orange and brown with ornate designs in silver. Of late, the new generation of artisans has successfully experimented with ivory, green and purple. Making of the Sankheda: Furniture

Over the years, the process of making the furniture has undergone few changes. Teakwood pieces are cut to specific sizes and shaped on a lathe by rotary action of a bow and string. The pieces are then shaved and smoothened to give them their characteristic round shape. After this process, a coat primer is applied to the pieces, which are left to dry. Ornamental designs are then painted on the pieces. The designs vary from a sort of lattice of geometrical shapes to floral motifs. The brush used is made of hair from a squirrel's tail.

To highlight the designs, the pieces go back to the lathe where they are polished with the pressure of the akik stone. This treatment is followed by the application of lacquer after which the pieces are again mounted on lathes over burning coal. The friction of the lathe's rotary action and the heat of the coals leave behind a coat of lacquer that is finally smoothened with a leaf of kewda tree.

 

Finally, the pieces are drilled for fitting torque and groove joints. They are then assembled into a variety of world-famed Sankheda furniture pieces. Normally each piece is adorned with little wooden bells, which enhance the ethnic appeal of this craft. It is possible to make everything from modern Chinese cabinets and sofa sets to traditional swings and patlis for low seating.

Great care has to be taken to maintain this furniture. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight or heat as it loses its glow and the colors fade. It should not be cleaned with oil or water. It should just be wiped clean with a dry cloth.

The Sankheda legend

The Sankheda artisans are very proud of their centuries old legendary know-how. Legend has it that about hundred and fifty years ago, the carpenters in Sankheda lived in penury. One day, a baba (holy man) came from nearby Pawagarh in the Araavali hills, seeking alms from the villagers. The already distraught carpenters pleaded with the holy man to show them the way out of their plight. The baba realized that besides carpentry they did not known anything else. He decided to teach them how to improve upon their existing skills by adding a new dimension to their craft. Thus, was born the unique art of Sankheda, which uses paint and lacquer on wood to fashion exquisite pieces of furniture as well as other ornate objects.

Sankheda Craftsmen

The Sankheda carpenters have kept up with the age of automation as far as some of their tools are concerned but not at the cost of compromising on the inherent quality of the art. For example, the lathes, which used to be manually operated, are now motorized. They are, however, adamant about not tampering with the natural ingredients used to make the furniture. No modern substitutes will do for the kalai (the tinning process), as there could be impurities, which will affect the coloration or the glow..

They are also aware that since their art is very dependant on nature-the teakwood, the kewda leaf, the squirrel's tail brush, the lacquer from the lac tree-the future might not be so bright as these may not be available in plenty

Several families in the village are involved in satisfying the growing demand for the furniture, which has made the village famous. Some export directly to the clients while others supply through export houses.


Handicrafts Trade
Trivia
Suggested Reading