As a welcome gift, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gifted Ivanka Trump a wooden box decorated with geometric patterns during her visit to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad. The beautiful box is decorated with a unique form of marquetry called Sadeli craft. Unfortunately, not many know about it.
A craft native to Surat in Gujarat, Sadeli is a form of marquetry done using the technique of fabricating geometric patterns on wood. Artisans use this art form to decorate furniture, windows and doors, and of late objects like jewellery boxes and photo frames too.
It is said that Sadeli was brought to Surat by Parsis from Iran. It became popular in 19th century Britain when objects decorated with this technique were imported there. The craftsmen who practice this art form are mostly carpenters.
The imported boxes also became popular in Mumbai, where they were known as Bombay boxes.
The intricate technique requires a lot of patience and precision. In earlier days, Sadeli boxes were gifted to welcome guests. Unfortunately, the art form has now lost its popularity. Only a few families are left in Surat who practice it. Naturally, people have forgotten about this beautiful form of marquetry.
However, with the Prime Minister gifting a Sadeli craft box to Ivanka Trump, he has brought the focus back to this long forgotten art form. Hopefully, more artisans will practice it again and teach it to the next generation, so it’s never forgotten.