Lacquer ware from Sawantwadi Palace
Unique gift pieces from the royal land ...
THE ONCE royal hilly kingdom of Sawantwadi is 60 km from Panaji, Goa, on NH-17, that climbs into Maharashtra, going all the way to Mumbai.
The drive is scenic and comfortable. Sawantwadi was the stronghold of the Bhonsle Kings, and is a large market town today, with a huge old palace, and a large lake, nestling the hills. Princess Satwasheela Devi has brought this place to the attention of foreign tourists, by her promotion of the art of lacquerware, a languishing trade that she has revived.
Using traditional local talent more people have been trained and the palace has proved instrumental in the production of lovely lacquer ware furniture, chess sets, board games, candlesticks, fruit and vegetables and little dolls all beautifully made and coloured. But the prices are quite high.
The large lake accentuates the scenic splendour of Sawantwadi.
A speciality of the place is the `ganjifa card' featuring painted pictures of the dasavatara, planets, and other folklore.
The brightly painted cards are made by pasting layers of cloth together with tamarind seed paste, then coating the surface with chalk, before polishing it with a stone, to make a smooth base for painting with natural dyes.
The back is stiffened with lacquer. The upstairs rooms of a section of the palace form the sales and display outlet.
The Sawantwadi Palace ... where art reaches out to all.
The products make for lovely gifts and unique keepsakes of a place not quite on one's regular travel route.
It makes it all the more special. To reach the product, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Text and photos by RUPA GOPAL)
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