Hyderabad: The advent of Chinese bangles and the threat that they pose to the traditional lac bangles has made scores of craftsmen and their families involved in the art form for generations, apprehensive about their survival in the trade.
While business is booming, the traders and craftsmen are far from happy. Many point out that cheap bangles from China, which are made from chemicals, have flooded the market. Seasoned craftsmen also rue the fact that migrant workforce has made labour cheap. Several hundreds of families across the city are into shaping the glittery lac bangles worn by women for special occasions like festivals and marriages in India and even abroad. The vocation, according to the craftsmen, is decades old and practised both by men and women.
“Earlier it was just the families from Hyderabad who were engaged in the vocation. Over the years, craftsmen from some Central Indian towns migrated to the city and have learnt the skill of lac bangle making and now they are in large numbers,” says Mohd Rasool, whose lac bangle workshop is situated in Fatimanagar, Chandrayangutta.
Migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal have established their bangle making units at Tallabkatta, Bhavaninagar, Farooqnagar and Rein Bazaar.
Embellishment is key
The original lac bangles are made using a mould, lac, giya powder, coal, sequins and beroza. The men make the frame using lac and aluminium or brass bangles. Later, women take over the finished frames to embellish them with semi-precious stones and glass fragments.
Various patterns are embellished on the bangles to give them a glittery look. After the embossing work is done, the bangles again find their way to workshop where they are polished and later sent to shops for sale. The raw material is brought from wholesalers in Begum Bazaar markets.
“The women are paid around Rs. 100 for a set of 14 bangles. They emboss the bangles with local semi-precious stones or the imported ones usually used for highly priced bangle sets,” says Abdul Saleem, a craftsman.
He adds that the workshop owners from Bihar and UP had previously employed children for embossing work but the practice now has stopped and they were replaced by women. “Its’ a tiresome job and wages are very less. Because we are confined to houses we do it during leisure hours,” says Razia Bee, who stays at Muhajireen camp behind Mecca Masjid.
Almost all the craftsmen supply their products to Laad Bazaar bangle market at Charminar, which attracts businessmen from across Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.