Though lacquer on wood can be found in most parts of India, the products in Navrangpur in the Koraput district of Odisha are unique because here the lacquer is used on articles made of bamboo.
Lacquer is prepared by melting lac, and then mixing the required shade of pigment and dyes to obtain the colours. The bamboo product is given a coat of the chosen shade of lacquer by melting it evenly over the item. In the next stage, lacquer in different colours is drawn into threads. These threads are patterned over the base into designs that are geometrical, floral, and folksy, with beautiful borders. The artisans need to be near the fire in order to have continuous flowing heat to facilitate the softening and melting of the lacquer.
This work is done mainly by the women and the tools they use are very simple and basic — a pair of scissors, a blunt needle, a flat block of granite stone, and small wooden rods. The main items produced are boxes in different lengths and sizes, though the repertoire has expanded to include coasters, wall hangings, and folk animal and human figures.