Plasters of Rajasthan

Speaking Natural Finishes – series 6

In Rajasthan you can find both the limits, the extravagant finishes of the palaces and the humble plasters of the villages, both made using natural materials. The finishes found in the palaces of Jaipur are more elaborate and expensive. These have been skillfully done, are time consuming and last for a very long time. Ranging from the smooth araish finish to a variety of colours of lime paint, these finishes offer a wide range of possibilities. On the contrary, the modest plasters of the villages here are generally easy to source locally and simpler to use and reuse.

Araish: This fascinating finish is one seamless reflective surface enticing not just the eyes but your sense of touch to feel the smoothness. This tadelakt of India is made with ingredients from the kiln as well as the kitchen. Applied gently with care and precision these plasters are a work of art. Before you obtain the final look, there are layers of work that go below the silky exterior. There are different coats of plaster underneath, each with a different grade and function.

Surkhi- This layer over the stone walls is the base coat made using slaked lime, burned clay powder (Surkhi), gogol (incense), natural gum, fenugreek seeds water, jaggery,and kesule ke phul. These ingredients are mixed and kept for months to ferment before application.

Zikki plaster- made using equal quantity of slaked lime and marble dust, this plaster is the next layer which is the base for the araish finish.

Finishing layer- lime milk from six months matured putty is taken and added with curd and kept to ferment for six more months. This paste is applied over the base and then polished using a special rounded stone till a glossy finish is attained.

Coloured lime finish: This is done similar to araish, only difference is that a pigment is added to achieve the desired colours. The very common yellow paint is attained by mixing yellow mud in the lime mix and applied with a brush in two coats.

Mud PlasterChikni mitti or clayey soil 3 parts from the banks of the ponds is mixed with 1 part fresh dung obtained from the traditional breed of cow. These two are kneaded and water is added to attain the right consistency for application. This is hand applied in thick layers on stone walls or mud walls to create interesting patterns. These walls may be re plastered as and when required.

Lime waste Plasters– Two parts of river sand is added to one part of the powdered lime waste and mixed well. To enhance the strength and make it more workable, overnight soaked methi (fenugreek) seed water and jaggery water is added to this mix which is then used to plaster the walls.

Other interesting links


Traditional Lime Araish photos & workshops

This article is by  Natural builder Musharaff Hebballi ,One of the founders of Natural Builders of India . This post is part of our Speaking Natural Finishes series.

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