One should not definitely judge a book by its cover, but a good gift should be judged by the box it comes in! Gifting boxes have symbolized expressions of regality since time immemorial. They set ones gift a class apart in terms of the recipient of the gift to make them feel special, something which a hotel strives for in their gifts, which should ideally reflect their commitment to ultimate hospitality without losing the royal and traditional touch.
This craft form originated around 500 years ago in the Middle Eastern regions of Persia and Turkey. Back then, it was mostly used for manufacturing vases but its elegance and robustness has resulted in its application in making boxes, ornaments, trays, paintings and various other showpiece items. Bidriware gets its name from Bidar, a small town in North Karnataka which is the hub of manufacturing this unique metal ware, characterized by silver inlay patterns on black metallic surfaces. The skilled artisans from the southern regions of India beautifully engrave patterns of various flowers, leaves and human figures to leave an indelible mark of their work across the world through these black metallic canvases.
Papier Mache Box
Jammu and Kashmir
The craft known by the French term “papier-mache’” which literally means “paper pulp”, is locally known as “kar-e-kalamkari” or “pen-case work”, after its traditional Iranian name. Papier-mache’ was practiced as a form of decoration on the wooden wall panels and wooden furniture, and was eventually adapted to paper moulds as well. Trays, jewellery boxes and book covers were made for royal patrons and members of their courts. The two major processes involved in the craft are “sakthsazi” or “mould making” and naqqashi or “mould painting”. The naqqash renders the surface in intricate floral patterns or highly stylized scenes of hunts and battles. The Mughal period saw the art extending to palanquins, ceilings, bedsteads, doors and windows.
Walnut Wood Box
Jammu and Kashmir
Walnut wood carving is an ornamental craft process that is virtually unique to Kashmir due to the exclusive availability of walnut trees (Junglas regia), locally known as dun or akhrot. The naqqash or the master carver first etches the basic pattern onto the wood and then removes the unwanted areas with the help of chisels and a wooden mallet. As a result, the design emerges from the lustrous walnut wood as an embossed surface.
Mother of Pearl Box
Mother of Pearl has been used for multiple decorative purposes since long periods of time. The pieces of shell are smoothened and arranged in ornamental fashion on wood carvings or inlaid in brass objects. It gives both an embossed and a glossy look on finishing. Most products are fashioned in a simple and elegant fashion for mainly room décor and kitchen accessories such as crockery, coasters and bathroom dispensers etc.
Saharanpur Wood Box
Saharanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh is well renowned for its work on wood carving and brass-inlay work on wood. Having influences from Kashmiri designs, their open worked screens with vines and floral patterns threading through the entire screen is very famous. Each work is methodically carved, engraved and buffed to give an other-worldly shine. Along with shelves, furniture and coasters, small toys such as trains and planes are also designed. Piggy banks ranging in different sizes are also made quite popular by them.
As is the story with most of the crafts, Zari or Zardozi embroidery also got its name from a village by the same name in ancient Persia. Zari has always been associated with the affluent sections of the society in India and globally as well because it requires weaving thin threads of gold and silver onto fine fabrics of silk. The result of this intricate piece of designing is so exquisite that it completely justifies its monetary worth. Mughal Emperor Akbar can be credited for bringing a revolution in the emergence of Zari as one of the most sought after crafts and for developing areas around Agra and Lucknow as major clusters for this craft. As the impact of Royal patronage waned in our society, the gold and silver were replaced with gold or silver-plated polyester and cotton yarns or slightly costlier copper threads. Lucknow, owing to its Nawabi heritage, still continues to be the biggest market for Zari and Zardozi embroidery.