Keeping alive a tradition dating back to the reign of the Kachhwaha rulers, a family in the Walled City of Jaipur makes an indelible black ink, or kali syahi, used 250 years ago for writing royal firmans (decrees) and ledgers.



  • The fourth generation of the family now produces the ink every Deepavali.
  • While the erstwhile royal family used the ink for its official transactions, the businessmen of the princely State used it to write their accounts.
  • Even universities established after Independence awarded degrees written with this ink. The ink was believed to ward off evil and bring prosperity to its users.



  • The ink was made of natural ingredients using a traditional procedure handed down from generations.
  • The black ink is prepared on a no-moon night with the chanting of mantras.
  • It is made of kaajal (homemade mascara), gondh (edible gum) and other locally sourced herbal ingredients.
  • The ink has medicinal properties, as some of its ingredients were used in the traditional Ayurvedic system for the treatment and healing of wounds.