When President Xi of China visited India in 2019, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Modi, proudly led him to be seated on a swing. While the two world leaders sat on the swing, enjoying the gentle rocking movements, it was the gold-coloured swing with its richly painted designs in red & black that caught everyone’s attention.
The colorful painted swing was from Sankheda, in the State of Gujarat, which happens to be Mr. Modi’s home State.
Sankheda is a village situated about 55 kms from Vadodra, or Baroda in the eastern region of Gujarat. The lacquered wood furniture with hand painted designs made in this village is known as Sankheda furniture. The product is protected under GI (Geographical Indications of Goods). According to Wiki, Sankheda furniture is colourful teak wood furniture of Gujarat, India, treated with lacquer and painted in traditional bright shades of maroon and gold.
This furniture is said to have been produced in this village from the year 1855. Approximately, 200 families are involved in making Sankheda furniture. This was the community craft of the Kharadi Suthar community in the village. In several Indian villages, the local communities in the villages practice a single craft as an occupation.
Sankheda Furniture-The Process
At the heart of this is the teak wood.
Firstly, cylindrical sections of teakwood are turned & shaped with the help of a lathe. The process of turning the teak wood on a lathe manually is diligently practiced till date. Tools such as the chisel & gouges are used in shaping the wood. Subsequently, tin foil & glue are heated up & used to paint motifs on the wooden surfaces. Further, agate stone is rubbed over the wood. The designs are done using a free hand. In addition, lac which is produced by insects in nearby forests are applied on the wood. Kevada leaf is used for the final finish & polish. Finally, all the components are individually crafted and finally assembled.
The skill of the master craftsmen ensures uniformity in creating identical pieces that fit together to form the final product.
It is customary for Gujarati (people from the State of Gujarat) families, to give traditional Sankheda furniture pieces to brides at the time of their wedding. The cradle is a piece of Sankheda furniture that can be found in all the Gujarati homes. The attractive & colourful cradle is passed down through generations. The non-plastic & non-toxic furniture is also an eco-friendly product. They also make baby walkers. It should also be mentioned that the use of synthetic colours and melamine coating is common today. One must exercise caution when purchasing the products.
Range of Sankheda furniture
In addition to cradles and walkers, there are several pieces of furniture that could be of interest. Three-piece sofa sets, chairs, stools, cabinets, pedestal lamps & flower vases are some of the items made in this village. The bride & the groom typically sit in a Sankheda stools when they get married in traditional Hindu style.
All these products are available at https://www.shopkhoj.com/shops-in-delhi/gurjari-gujarat-state-emporium/
To promote this craft, a training institute has been established in Ahmedabad.
Find out about cleaning wooden furniture.