The lacquered wooden products crafted in Nirona village have a unique kaleidoscopic appeal. Artisans create a variety of functional wooden products using simple lathe tools, demonstrating not only their talent and creativity but also their dedication to preserving age-old techniques. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, lacquered wooden products play a vital role in the economic sustainability of artisans’ families, serving as a crucial source of income. Moreover, the allure of these unique creations attracts tourists and art enthusiasts, fostering cultural exchange and generating economic benefits for the community.

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      In Indian culture, lacquer has held significant importance, being utilized in various aspects of daily life. Whether adorning bracelets and jewellery, wooden kitchenware, enhancing the beauty of bowls and boxes, crafting cradles and furniture, or adding colour to spinning wheels and children’s toys, lacquer has played a versatile role in both functional and decorative aspects of Indian life. Its widespread use across diverse items reflects its cultural and aesthetic significance in traditional craftsmanship.

      Lacquer-coated wooden bowls, trays, and kitchen utensils are commonly used for serving food. The lacquer not only adds an aesthetic touch but also provides a protective layer to the wooden items.

      Nirona’s lacquer wood products are popular choices for gifts and souvenirs. Their unique designs make them thoughtful and meaningful presents for both locals and tourists.


      The first significance of lac lies in its natural, non-toxic, odorless, and tasteless hard resin, which comes from an insect called “Kerria lacca Kerr.” This insect thrives on many host plants such as Palas, Kusum, Flemingia, and Ber. Lac is the only known commercial resin of animal origin. To produce 1 kg of lac hard resin, around 300,000 insects lose their lives. Perhaps that’s why the name “lac” is derived from the Sanskrit term “laksha,” which means 100,000.

      Lac resin, dye, etc., still find extensive use in Ayurveda and Siddha systems of medicine. With increasing universal environmental awareness, the importance of lac has assumed special relevance in the present age, being an eco-friendly, biodegradable, and self-sustaining natural material. Lac constituents are used in various ways, including:

      Natural dyeing: Traditionally used to color wool and silk, its color varies between purple-red, brown, and orange, often depending on the mordant used. Also used in inks for non-toxic printing of food packaging.

      Polish industry: Lac wax is a mixture of higher alcohols, acids, and their esters. It is used in polishes applied on shoes, floors, automobiles, food, drug tablet finishing, and lipsticks.

      Media: Utilized in the preparation of gramophone records and photographic films.

      Sealing: In post offices, lac is used for sealing, among other industries for various purposes.

      India contributes more than 90% of the commercial production of lac, with states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Eastern Maharashtra, and northern Orissa being the major production states. Since lac insects are cultured on host trees primarily growing in wasteland areas, the promotion of lac and its culture can help in ecosystem development as well as reasonably high economic returns. It is a source of livelihood for tribal and poor communities inhabiting forest and sub-forest areas.

      In the craft industry, the usage of lac can be seen in many crafts like jewelry, bangle making, or lacquer-polished wooden products like toys, furniture, and utility objects. Artisans in Kachchh have mastered the art of lacquer work, and their creations showcase vibrant and intricate patterns characteristic of this technique.

      Myths & Legends:

      Lac is also highly flammable. In the great Indian epic “Mahabharata,” after Yudhishthira was appointed as the Crown Prince, he and his brothers embarked on a Vijayayatra and returned home laden with gifts and wealth. This further fueled Duryodhana’s jealousy. He and his allies conceived the nefarious idea of constructing a lac house to trap the Pandavas. Duryodhana approved the plan, and preparations commenced. When everything was in place, Duryodhana invited his cousins to stay in the Lakshagriha for an event in Varnavrat. Yudhishthira happily accepted the invitation, and they went to the house.

      The house was highly flammable, capable of burning down rapidly and trapping its occupants. However, Vidura, the paternal uncle of the Pandavas, learned of the scheme and warned them in front of the Kauravas, speaking in riddles. He also arranged for a miner to construct an escape route for them.

      It’s worth mentioning that a lakshagriha would require a significant amount of lac, indicating a flourishing lac industry during that period. In 2017 the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has finally granted permission to excavate the Barnawa site of Baghpat district that locals believe was the site of Lakshagriha.


      Lac is a natural material, and we don’t even know how long it has been growing on Earth. Tribals have also been using it since ancient times. It’s fascinating to discover that an entire chapter in the Atharva Veda is dedicated to the Lakshataru, or the lac tree, providing insights into the habits, characteristics, and usefulness of the lac insects. The Atharva Veda’s attention to detailing the natural world, including specific trees and their associated insects, reflects the deep connection of ancient Indian civilization with nature and its resources. Such chapters provide a glimpse into the profound understanding and utilization of botanical and entomological knowledge in ancient texts, showcasing a complete perspective that encompasses both spiritual and practical aspects of life.

      Lacquer work can be found in the “Ain-i-Akbari” written by Abul Fazl in the late 16th century. This historical documentation attests to the enduring legacy and significance of lacquerware in Indian craftsmanship, providing insights into its presence and importance during the Mughal era.

      The Wadhas, a nomadic community, traversed the Kachchh region, including villages such as Nirona and Jura. They practiced the art of collecting wood, natural stones, and colors from local forests, utilizing these materials in the creation of lacquer goods. Establishing close ties with the Maldhari community, the Wadhas engaged in a system of barter, exchanging their crafted items for goods or services. Over time, some descendants of the Wadha artisans have transitioned to a settled lifestyle, with a notable concentration in Kachchh, particularly in places like Nirona. Among the few families continuing the traditional craft are the Vekyas, who have become torchbearers of the Wadha legacy, ensuring the preservation of their unique skills and contributions to the cultural heritage of the region. The history of the Wadhas reflects the dynamic interplay between nomadic and settled communities, as well as the exchange of craftsmanship and cultural practices.

      Using these natural materials, the Wadha community specializes in creating lacquer goods through the intricate process of lacquer work. This craft involves applying colored lacquer to various surfaces, often wood, to produce vibrant and detailed patterns.


      The artistry of lacquer work reveals itself through a meticulously crafted process, where each step plays a vital role in the creation of exquisite wooden masterpieces of different design.

      Zig-Zag Patterns

      Drawing Vertical Lines: Artisans begin by drawing vertical lines on the wooden surface. This step may involve marking the wood with evenly spaced lines to create a foundation for the design.

      Merging into Zig-Zag Patterns: The vertical lines are then transformed into zig-zag patterns. This transformation can be achieved by using a tiny wooden stick to connect and merge the lines, creating a more dynamic and textured appearance.

      Colour Reveal Pattern

      Application of Lacquer Layers: Two layers of lacquer are applied to the wood. Lacquer serves multiple purposes, including adding a protective layer to the wood and providing a smooth surface for the subsequent decorative work.

      Scratching Out Patterns: The topmost layer of lacquer is selectively scratched out to reveal the lower layer of coloured lacquer beneath. This is a meticulous process where artisans carefully scratch away portions of the top layer to unveil the desired patterns. Floral and geometric patterns are commonly created through this technique.

      The scratching process exposes the coloured lacquer underneath, adding vibrant hues to the patterns. The combination of colours from the lower layer and the texture created by the zig-zag patterns contributes to a visually appealing and dynamic design.


      The transition of the descendants of Wadha artisans from a nomadic lifestyle to permanent settlement in Kachchhi villages has likely brought about significant changes in their traditional way of life and craftsmanship. As you mentioned, there are only a few traditional lacquer artisan families continuing the craft in Kachchh, and they face socio-economic challenges.

      The shift from a nomadic lifestyle to settled communities can alter the dynamics of traditional crafts. The dependence on the tourist market for seasonal sales suggests that the traditional market dynamics and economic sustainability of these artisans have evolved. Relying on tourism may provide a source of income, but it also introduces a level of seasonality and uncertainty to their livelihoods.

      The lacquer art of Nirona, while rich in cultural heritage and craftsmanship, faces significant challenges that have kept it largely unrecognized and distant from the mainstream market economy. Despite the unique skills and artistic traditions of the community craftsmen, the demand and support for this distinctive art form have unfortunately remained low.

      Situated at the fringes of the village of Nirona, the lacquer artisans find themselves facing with high levels of poverty, deprivation, and limited access to education. These socio-economic challenges have created barriers for the community craftsmen, hindering their ability to access platforms that could help promote and sustain their art.

      The lack of recognition and market demand not only impacts the economic prospects of the artisans but also threatens the continuity of a traditional craft that holds significant cultural value. The isolation of the community from mainstream opportunities and education further worsens the struggle for these craftsmen to break through these barriers.

      Additionally, the practice of buying natural resources on the open market instead of sourcing them directly from the environment reflects the changing availability of resources and the challenges artisans face in maintaining traditional practices. This shift could be influenced by various factors such as environmental changes, resource depletion, or economic considerations.

      Preserving traditional crafts is not only important for cultural heritage but also for the economic well-being of the communities involved. Collaborative efforts from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the tourism industry could contribute to the sustainable development of traditional crafts and the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the artisans in Kachchh.

      Introduction Process:

      In the core of Nirona village in Kutch, a mesmerizing art form unfolds as skilled artisans engage in the intricate process of lacquer work. This age-old craft, deeply rooted in the cultural tapestry of the region, takes shape through a series of carefully composed steps. From the initial drawing of vertical lines to the transformation into dynamic zig-zag patterns, and the application of protective lacquer layers, each stage contributes to the creation of stunning wooden masterpieces. The meticulous scratching out of patterns, revealing layers of coloured lacquer beneath, adds a vibrant and dynamic dimension to the art. This process, laden with tradition and craftsmanship, not only showcases the unique heritage of Nirona but also exemplifies the artistic brilliance that defines this exceptional lacquer work.

      Raw Materials:

      Wood – The primary woods utilized in are baval or babool, occasionally nim or neem, niladuri, thankaro, lahi, and khared are also used.

      Lacquer – The insect indigenous to Kutch, as well as other regions in India, sustains itself by feeding on the sap of native plants and Babool trees. As a part of its natural defence mechanism, this insect secretes a protective resin known as lac. This resin not only shields the insect but also holds cultural, artistic, and economic significance, being utilized in traditional crafts and practices in various communities across India. The intricate relationship between this insect, the local flora, and the resin it produces highlights the interconnectedness of ecosystems and the utilization of natural resources in diverse ways.

      Colours – The vibrant colours used in the lacquer work come from stones sourced from the local surroundings.

      In contemporary times, the landscape of lacquer work in Nirona, Kutch, is experiencing a shift, influenced by evolving market dynamics and changing environmental conditions. Artisans now find themselves adapting to new practices, including the direct procurement of materials from markets. This transition is driven, in part, by the low availability of traditional resources in the surrounding environment. The impact of changing climates and ecological shifts has prompted artisans to seek alternative sources, marking a notable transformation in the procurement methods of materials essential to the continuation of the time-honored lacquer work in Nirona. This adaptation reflects the resilience of the craft and the ability of artisans to navigate challenges presented by the contemporary landscape.

      Tools & Tech:

      Self-made Lathe – The lathe is manually powered using a stick and rope arrangement. When making lac turned wood, there’s a special setup with two sharp iron rods in the ground forming a space for the wood. These rods are bent towards each other and their distance depends on how long the wood is. The wood is held between the pointed ends of the rods. The artisan starts by shaping the wood, carving it into the desired form. After that, they add lac to the wood, creating colourful patterns in a traditional way.

      Saw: Used for cutting large wooden pieces into smaller pieces.

      Axe: A hand tool used for chopping, splitting, chipping, and piercing.

      Chisels: A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge or blade at its end, used for carving or cutting wood at the initial stage. They also use it to remove extra wood on the lathe machine.

      Sandpaper: Used for smoothing the surface of the wood.



      The process of making products is very organic within the nomadic community, as their setup is scattered and they lack proper workshops. Depending on the weather, they set up their workplace under a tree or in the sun. Their lathe setup is also simple and customizable. Setting up at a new location doesn’t take much time. Their lathe consists of two iron rods fixed into the ground, bent toward each other, demarcating the turning area. A string attached to a bow and sticks of colored lac are the primary tools of this important yet simple handmade setup.

      Obtaining Wood: They acquire wood logs from the market and cut them into simple square or rectangular sizes.

      Shaping the Wood: Artisans select a piece of wood and shape it using simple tools like a hammer and chisel. During this process, artisans carefully visualize the parts of the products that can be further refined on the lathe. For example, when making a spoon, the basic front of the spoon is carved, and the handle is refined on the lathe.

      Fixing the Wood on the Lathe: After carving the product, they fix it onto the lathe. The distance between the iron rods on the lathe is determined by the length of the wood being turned. The wood is firmly secured between the pointed ends of the rods.

      Turning Process: They turn the lathe by hand, starting by removing the extra wood and giving a specific circular form to the product.

      Smoothing: After shaping the product, they use sandpaper to smooth the surface of the wood.

      Applying Colored Lac: In the final stage, colored lac is applied to the product. They rotate the wood quickly and apply the color. Due to friction, the temperature rises, causing the lac to stick to the surface of the wood. By using simple tools and overlapping colors, they create simple flat or zig-zag patterns on the wood.

      Finishing Touch: Finally, they apply oil to the surface, giving shine to the applied lac.

      Customization: For different products, they customize the process. For example, for a circular box, they don’t need to carve the wood; they can directly make the product on the lathe machine.


      Wood Scraps: Trimmings and cut-offs from the wood.

      Lacquer Residue: Unused or excess lacquer material that may not adhere to the wood.

      Colour Pigment Residue: Residual pigments or dyes that are not fully absorbed during the colouring process.

      Dust and Shavings: Fine wood dust and shavings generated during the shaping and carving stages on lathe.

      Cluster Name: Nirona-Kutch


      'Nirona' gets its name from 'Nir', meaning water, and 'Ona', meaning deep. It is small a village in the Kutch, Gujarat which boasts of a rich heritage of traditional crafts.

      District / State
      Nirona-Kutch / Gujarat

      Kutchi, Gujarati, Hindi, English
      Best time to visit
      Stay at
      How to reach
      Bhuj town is located 38 kms from here. Buses and Taxis are available from Bhuj.
      Local travel
      Walking Distances. No transport required.
      Must eat
      Snacks like Dabeli, Bhajia and Chai are available.


      According to popular belief, the water of the 'Sindh River' covered the entire stretch of the Rann of Kutch, the deepest portion being a part of the Nirona port. The village was named after this port.
      The present "Rann of Kutch"came to existence after a devastating earthquake which made the river bed rise up. The port of Nirona was a major trade link for the Pakistani traders who traded rice, tobacco and fabric (Ajrakh, zari etc) from Sindh.


      Nirona is a village in the 'Nakhatrana taluka' in the Kutch district of the state of Gujarat. The nearest cities are 'Bhuj', 'Anjar' and 'Gandhidham'. The village is around 38 kms from Bhuj and spans an area of 31751.38 hectares. The'Bhurud River' flows on the western side of 'Nirona' and to its south lies the 'Chitrapit' and 'Dounger' hills.  A pond named 'Barahsar' lies to its east and the northern side houses a graveyard. It has regular bus connectivity from Bhuj. The major conveyance within Nirona, are buses, jeeps and 'Chakdas' (three wheeler carts).


      Nirona has harsh summers but do not face a scarcity of water like the rest of Kutch due to the Bhurud River. The temperatures peak to 46 deg celsius during the summers. The winters too are an extreme with the temperatures dropping to 2 deg celsius. Nirona receives rainfall from the south-western monsoon winds mainly in the month of June to September. Maximum rainfall happens during the months of July and August. The main crops are Bajra, vegetables, rice, groundnut, castor, babul and pulses.


      The village has a dam constructed over the 'Bhurud River' by the name of 'Rudranimatani'. The dam aids in irrigation and cultivation as well as water supply throughout the year for the villagers. Nirona has a small marketplace at the entrance marked by a memorial stone. This market hosts small items of daily use and has sweetmeat or snack shops. There is a school and a hospital for the basic needs. Due to the proximity with Bhuj and other cities, the necessary items and services are sourced from the surrounding cities while Nirona remains a quaint village.


      The architecture of Nirona retains its rural flavour though it has evolved from the traditional construction to brick and concrete. Small narrow streets meander between the shops and houses. The shops and houses have brick walls covered by sloping roofs with clay tiles. The houses are spaced in a barren expanse with sparse vegetation. Asbestos sheets are used to roof the sheds and barns. Wooden windows have slowly given way to iron grills. The houses of the craftsmen serve as their workplaces too with workshops and furnaces forming the activity areas.


      Nirona houses both the Hindu and Muslim communities who live together in perfect harmony. They celebrate festivals like 'Janmashtami', Diwali, Muharram and Eid. A symbol of the peace co-habitation of the two communities is 'Phool' peer, who was a Sufi saint who was originally a Hindu but was a disciple of a Muslim master. The festival honouring him is celebrated in the month of 'Magh' for two days.
      Marriage is an important event in their lives as it signifies continuing tradition. The dowry system is still prevalent in some areas. Girls start fabricating embroidered items for their dowries at a very young age under the guidance of the older women in the house.


      Nirona' has a population of around seven thousand people. It houses different communities like the 'Ahirs', Muslims, 'Harijans' and 'Bhanusali Rajputs' who follow a patriarchal system. Agriculture and handicrafts are their main occupation.

      Famous For:

      'Nirona' is famous for its crafts of metal bells, lacquer ladles and Rogan art.


      List of craftsmen.