Tarkashi is a technique of inlaying brass, copper or silver wires (taar in Hindi) in wood. This craft originated in the late 19th century and is usually associated with architecture like wood carving. It is believed that at the time Jaipur was being conceptualized by Sawai Man Singh II, many craftsmen from all over India were invited to aid the beautification of city with their skills. Among them were the artisans of Tarkashi who migrated to the city from Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh.
This amazing craftsmanship can be seen in door panels, trays and lamps, sandook (chest), decorative elephants, tables, flower pots etc. The earliest products were wooden slippers, also known as khadaun, worn by Hindus as they considered leather to be unclean. The most common designs are floral and geometric patterns. Usually, teak wood is used because of its oily texture which allows the inlaid metal to be placed securely.
The process of inlaying metal into wood carvings is laborious and highly skilled. The process includes carving of the design from a piece of paper onto a hard block of wood in the form of deep and thin grooves. Then the wires are placed in the grooves and knocked into the position by a hammer. Special care is taken while finishing as heating the product may dislodge the wires. The thick wires are used for strong outlines or figures while the finest are used for minute details.
The artisans craft the object in a very explicit matter to maintain the excellence and perfection. Tarkashi products are best suited for both personal use and gift purpose. Such products can give the royal traditional touch to the interior of the houses.
Such artifacts and craftsmanship are must to be cherished and promoted to show the hard work of the artisans and beauty of the products.