Bastar’s Dhokra Art : A Legacy in Metal

Bastar’s Dhokra Art : A Legacy in Metal

The Adivasi communities of India's Bastar area (Chhattisgarh) are globally recognised for their distinctive art and exceptional craft work in various forms such as woodwork, bamboo art, soil art and metal arts.

Dhokra art is a unique style of preservation used by the metalsmith tribes in Bastar along with West Bengal, Odisha as well as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; even receiving Geographical Indication (GI) tags for their artwork.

The Ghadwas of Bastar have been passing on their traditional bronze and brass artwork to manufacture bell metal handicrafts in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh and Bastar districts.

Typically, tribes like the "Jharas" of Raigarh and the "Ghadwas" of Bastar practice Dhokra Art using an age-old technique of hollow casting and lost wax along with wrought iron figurines. Iron waste that has been recycled is usually used as the primary ingredient in this craft. The characteristic items produced by this skill include lamps, candle stands, sculptures of deities, musicians, as well as toys.

The metal casting technique used in Dhokra can be traced back to 4,000 years, with the dancing girl figurine of Mohenjo-daro being the earliest known lost wax relics.

Dhokra sculptures are made using a clay core that almost resembles the final cast; this picture is the first step in the lost wax hollow casting process. A coating of wax made from pure beeswax, resin from the tree of ‘Damara Orientalis’ along with nut oil is then applied over the clay core.

Artisans use this wax mold to carve and decorate patterns in the sculpture. The wax is then coated over with clay, which assumes the internal form of the clay from inside, turning it into a mold for the metal that will be poured within. Brass or bronze are commonly used to sculpt these Dhokra figurines.

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