I was interested in uncovering the history of inlay furniture during my latest trip to Rajasthan. I took a trip to the famous City Palace in Udaipur, built by the Maharaja Udai Sing in the late 16th century. I learned that the city of Udaipur was built as a safer more defendable refuge from the Mughal invasion that was threatening north India. The Persian Islamic culture was sweeping all before it as it entered India from the west, and nearly all the country was subjugated under its might. Udaipur and Jodhpur, the two cities from which Iris sources its furniture were notable in their resistance to this Mughal invasion, and this, along with their subsequent stand against the British colonial invasion, has contributed to their proud sense of culture and indomitable spirit.
I walked the ancient corridors of the City Palace hoping to see early examples of inlay furniture. I was aware that much of the furniture craft in Udaipur has its antecedents in the tradition of furnishing Udaipurs great palaces, so thought I amy see early examples in the City Palace which is now a museum. I stumbled
across elaborate examples of Mirror Glass inlay, where whole rooms were covered from floor to ceiling with hand carved mirror glass fragments of vibrant colours that have not dulled with the passing of time. I also saw exquisite wall panels with delicate floral
mosaics of cut glass, and decided to commission a few of the very same for Iris Furnishing. Particularly stunning was the full size Peacock resplendent in turquoise and emerald green, now available from Iris- a totally unique piece that is based of the stunning example created for the Maharaja seen here.
Iris craftsmen have now applied the ancient craft of Mirror Glass inlay to furniture, and we have created entirely unique chests of drawers and bedside chests. Each tiny fragment of glass is hand
cut with a special scissor like tool and carefully stuck to the wooden carcass of the furniture before being filled in with resin and then sanded back to create the stunning finish you can see here. Iris have created a geometric Glass inlay chest as well as a floral Glass inlay chest, to our knowledge this are entirely unique items, and are also available in any color with
Iris Furnishings bespoke order service. Customers are invited to order any of our products in their chosen dimensions and chosen colour. Lead times are 10-14 weeks for bespoke orders. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.
The only early example of Indian inlay furniture I came across in Udaipur’s City Palace was (sad and ironic) an ivory inlaid Maharaja’s elephant chair from the
1700’s. Carved pieces of ivory were alternated with horn to create the geometrical designs that have a distinctive Rajasthani feel. Of course use of this morally abhorrent material has died out long ago, though the exquisite skill of the craftsmen lives on in our ethically sourced camel bone inlay furniture. All our bone is recycled from the abundant resource of Rajasthani desert camel’s that have lived full lives and have died of old age.