Culture · Daily Life · People · Street

Making the Manjha

From the Manjha Series: This is a close up from the same scene. The man was making sure he had the thread count right before he went about applying the mixture.

[Text below from]

conventional Manjha is an abrasive material that usually comprises of fine glass powder ground into a paste with idli, cooked rice or hide glue solution. This is then coated over a thread of sufficient tensile strength to make it (the thread) a cutting tool.

Manjha-makers like to invest their “recipes” with a certain mystique. Exotic ingredients such as cactus, barks of select trees and, most bizarre of all, blood of garden lizard, find their way into manjha recipes. A manjha-maker will swear by the potency of such ingredients, but whether they help in lending that cutting edge to the thread is doubtful.

Some ingredients are given exotic names but in reality are either chemicals or resins. For example, manjha-speak includes such terms as madarsingh (which is but iron pyrites), suruma (lead sulphide) and parangi sambrani (a fragrant exudate from a tree).

Some kite-fliers make “unconventional manjha” by mixing micronised quartz powder with nitrocellulose lacquer (which is used as a protective coating on metals and wood) and then diluting this paste suitably with a thinner. These innovators swear that manjha prepared in this manner is more moisture-proof.

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