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What Is Rice Writing?

Long-grain white rice is usually used in the ancient practice of rice writing.
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  • Written By: Lakshmi Sandhana
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2014
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Rice writing is an ancient art that involves writing a word or name on a single grain of rice. The practice has been around for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in India and Turkey. Rice was chosen as a medium for this special type of art because it symbolizes good fortune, wealth, and fertility. Artisans typically inscribe names or short messages on a single grain and encapsulate it within a transparent container. Many skilled rice artists create rice jewelery in the form of charms, pendants, and bracelets.

This type of jewelry is highly appreciated for its intricate work and ancient symbolism. It is possible to find skilled artists both offline and online who create beautiful, personalized rice writing for a very economical sum. Gifts of rice art are thought to bring good luck to the recipient and protect him or her from harm. For many, rice symbolizes wealth; the more rice one has, the more prosperous one is. For others, rice has a deeper spiritual meaning, representing the beneficence of Mother Earth — she provides rice in plenty for her children to sustain themselves.

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The oldest known rice writing exists in Turkey. According to legend, a skilled artist wrote 200 letters on one grain of rice. He is thought to have accomplished this feat with one strand of hair. The tradition of gifting messages written on rice is believed to have begun with the idea that those who received them would become luckier and wealthier. The art evolved over the years to its present form, where it is gifted in different types of tiny, transparent containers containing a magnifying fluid, which is typically oil.

One can easily find rice writing in the form of name-on-rice necklaces, earrings, and key chains. Charm bracelets, anklets, choker necklaces, and pendants in intricate shapes containing rice art can also be easily found. Modern artists also further personalize the rice art with tiny mementos that hold significance to the receiver. Mementos such as birthstones, tiny flowers, and baby teeth may be placed in the container along with the grain of rice to give it a more exotic touch.

The type of rice used for rice writing is typically long-grain white rice. This type of rice has a flat shape, making it easy to write on either surface. The artist needs to have a steady hand and be skilled in miniature writing. The final product is enclosed within a container or vial with plain or colored oil. This magnifies the letters, making it easy for the recipient to read and appreciate the intricate calligraphy.

Some of the materials needed to create a piece of art with rice writing include hair oil, a paintbrush with a chiseled tip, and forceps. A single grain of rice, acrylic colors, and a small glass container are also required. First, the paint is prepared by blending the acrylic color with water till it becomes a thick solution. The paint should not be watery. The artists then dips the brush into the paint and holds the rice grain firmly with the forceps.

An artist then writes the letters onto the rice with a firm hand, using vertical and horizontal strokes. This helps the letters to be legible and results in crisp writing. After the paint dries, the rice is put into a little vial and filled with the oil. The top is then sealed, and super glue is applied to the rim to seal it permanently. The final product is ready to be hooked onto a key chain or a necklace.

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