The Punjab region is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Pakistan and North India.One of the world’s first and oldest civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization spanned much of the Punjab region, with cities such as Harappa and Mohenjodaro now located in the modern-day Pakistani province of Punjab.
Punjab is well known for its vibrant and colourful culture. Traditionally, the homes in the state have always reflected an earthy and vibrant vibe. It is interesting to note the evolution of architecture and home design in Punjab.
Nanak shahi Bricks
Nanak Shahi bricks were kind of brick tiles of moderate dimensions used for reinforcing lime concretes in the structural walls and other components which were generally very thick. The brick-tile made mouldings, cornices, plasters, etc., easy to work into a variety of shapes. The Nanak Shahi Bricks found use more as cladding or decorative material than for meeting structural needs for well over two hundred years.
Nanak Shahi (from the times of Nanak) brick was most commonly used for its intrinsic advantages. It was a kind of brick tile of moderate dimensions used for reinforcing lime concretes in the structural walls and other components, which were generally very thick. These bricks are now being used to restore heritage structures to their original glory.
Lime mortar was widely used as the binding material in older construction. This material possesses excellent load bearing property which increases further with time.Lime mortar is the only binding material mainly used in the earlier age for construction purposes. The ancient techniques of preparing lime mortar are still used to restore the old structures like forts and monuments these days. The main components of the mortar were lime, sand, and surkhi (red powder form of brick) mixed together using water.
Surkhi or powdered broken brick is used as an adulterant but it imparts strength and hydraulic properties to the mortar. Surkhi mortar is a mixture of lime,surkhi and water. It is lime mortar in which sand has been substituted by surkhi for economy and strength.Kankar lime and Surkhi have been used as traditional pozzolanic materials for lime in the subcontinent.Surkhi is an artificial pozzolanic material made by powdering bricks or burnt clay balls.
Pozzolanic materials are those materials which in themselves possess little or no cementitious value but they attain cementitious value when they come in contact with water because they chemically react with calcium hydroxide liberated on hydration. Surkhi is used for making waterproof cement mortars and concrete. They also make the concrete more resistant to alkalis and salt solutions. The addition of surkhi is accompanied by slight reduction in initial strength as it attains its full strength after a long period of time.
Lime and surkhi come together to make a homogeneous mix. Jaggery and fenugreek seed water is added to this mostly when doing roofs or repairing cracks. Jaggery is sticky, enhances binding and keeps moisture intact preventing sudden drying and hence preventing cracks. Methi gives workability and adds to the waterproofing quality of the surkhi mix. In a mortar, the jaggery holds two bricks together tightly. For plaster, it is unnecessary to add jaggery. If you add it to the plaster, the consistency will change and will not give the desired result the mix will become and lose and take longer to set.
Wood Inlay Work
Punjab is celebrated for its ivory and brass inlay in wood. Many woodwork centres are functioning in Punjab with their own distinct styles.
Wood inlay craft originated in Hoshiarpur about 300 years ago, and ivory was originally used until it was banned altogether in 1989.Simply put, inlay is a technique of inserting pieces of contrasting colors into the hollow spaces to create a design. It involves engraving foliage patterns, and simple everyday designs are inlaid with either acrylic, plastic, bronze or camel bone.The first step is the tracing of designs. For tracing, the pattern to be inlaid is first drawn on a piece of paper.
This pattern can be of floral or geometrical designs or traditional motifs.After that, the drawn pattern is traced on both the wood and acrylic sheet using ink. After the patterns have been drawn, the wood is ready for the second step called etching, which is done with the aid of sharp knives and chisels. This leads to the creation of grooves or gaps in the wood. Mostly, the grooves two to three millimetres deep are created, and the piece is then ready for inlay.
The next and most crucial of all the steps is setting and subsequently pasting of acrylic pieces inside the gaps made in the wood. After creating grooves in wood, the artisan cuts the acrylic sheet with sharp knives on the traced patterns. Now these small pieces of acrylic are set in the grooves inside the wood, and each piece is carefully glued to the wood.
The piece to be inlaid is smoothened with sandpaper and polished in lac. Ideally, the piece is covered with two or three layers of lac and is given a glazed finish as per the client’s requirement, which is the final stage of finishing.Originally, most artisans hailed from Bassi Gulam Hussain and Boothgarh villages and the art was passed from generation to generation. Not more than 70 artisans are practising this craft at present.