The art of Meenakari, or Meena Kari or Mina Kari is an art of painting or embellishing various types of metals with bright colours in dramatic motifs of birds, flowers and leaves. There are various kinds of Meenakari work depending on whether the enamel is to appear opaque, transparent or translucent.
The word Meenakari is derived from Meena, which is the feminine form of Minoo in Persian, referring to heaven. Meena refers to the azure colour of heaven. This art was invented by the Iranian craftsmen of the Sassanid era and spread by the Mongols to India and other countries. It is not just limited to traditional jewellery but expands into figurines and other products as well.
A wide variety of metals is used for Meenakari designing, including brass, copper, silver and gold. Enamel colours chiefly consist of metal oxides mixed with a tint of finely powdered glass. The colour yellow is obtained by using chromate of potash; violet is obtained through carbonate of manganese; green through copper oxide; blue through cobalt oxide; brown through red oxide; and black through a manganese, iron, and cobalt. Apart from using glass, the powder of various semi-precious and precious stones is also used in the colouring process. Meenakari is often used in addition to Kundan to create exquisite jewellery.