Dhokra: The Traditional Art of Metal Casting from Bengal (PIB)

Context: Exquisite Dhokra products from different tribes of India were among the main items added in its 7th edition of “From Our Home to your Home” campaign on Tribes India, which focusses on sourcing new, natural, attractive as well as immunity-boosting tribal products and bringing them to the customer.

  • Dhokra is a non-ferrous metal casting style which uses the lost-wax technique. This style of metal casting has been in vogue in all parts of India for centuries. The dhokra products reflect the simplicity and motifs of tribal and folk life and make for excellent gifting options.

Analysis

  • Brass craft has made a significant change within the artwork created by the artisans in India.
  • West Bengal in particular has been using the ancient metal casting technique of Dhokra to facilitate the use of brass.
  • A non-ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique, Dhokra has been used for over 4,000 years in India.
  • The term “Dhokra” has been named after the Dhokra Damar tribes, the traditional metalsmiths from West Bengal and Odisha.
  • This ancient art form has been known to the people of India since the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • One of the oldest Dhokra artifacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro.
  • An essential distinction between Dhokra art and various other art forms found in the nearby states of West Bengal is that the Dhokra art pieces are adorned with thin, twisted brass wires that carve out various recognizable shapes giving it a rustic look.

Lost-wax technique

  • The lost-wax technique, called cire perdue in French, is a metallurgical art form that is at once one of the oldest and the most advanced.
  • Apart from India it was used in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China and Greece.

Early India chronology

  • c.7000BC: Advent of agriculture, animal husbandry and settled life. Neolithic revolution
  • c.4000BC: Use of copper c.3500BC Making of bronze alloy by smelting copper and tin ore together
  • c.1000BC: Iron metallurgy
  • c.100BC: Zinc metallurgy. Making of brass alloy of mixing pure copper and pure zinc

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