Glasswork in India

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Although the Egyptian and Mesopotamian regions had glassmakers even in the third millennium B.C., it seems that glass did not exist during the Harappan civilization despite its vibrant trading links with Mesopotamia . There is evidence of elegant glass beads from the ‘Painted Grey Ware’ culture of the Ganges Valley (c.1000 B.C.).

The Sanskrit term used for glass in the Vedic text ‘Satapatha Brahmana’ is ‘Kaca’ or ‘Kanch’. The archaeological excavations in Brahmapuri and Kolhapur in Maharashtra (2 B.C.-2 A.D.) point towards the existence of a glass industry in that area, especially for the production of lenticular beads. The use of spectacles is mentioned in the Sanskrit text, ‘Vyasayogi-carita’ .

Archaeological evidence in the form of glass beads was found at Maski, a Chalcolithic site in the southern Deccan, which is dated at the beginning of the first millennium B.C. Archaeological evidence on the existence of glass has also been found from various excavated sites in India such as Ahar (Rajasthan), Ahichchatra (Uttar Pradesh), Broach (Gujarat), Eran and Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Paiyampalli (Tamil Nadu) and Sulur (Kerala) .

The glass industry flourished with the advent of the Muslim rule in India. Stratified bangles were discovered in Kolhapur, which was under the Bahamani rule. A large variety of glass vessels and objects were manufactured under the Mughals, including ‘hukkas’ and ‘ittardans’ (perfume boxes), besides beautiful engraved glass.

The most sought after glass objects in the current times are glass bangles, which are found in different hues and kinds. Hyderabad’s ‘churi ka jodas’, Varanasi’s glass beads called ‘tikuli’, Ferozabad’s glassware items and Saharanpur’s beautiful glass toys called ‘panchkora’ are some of the fascinating glass products made in India.

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