Origin: Nomads living in Bengal and Jharkhand gave birth to this stunning art form. One of the oldest examples of this art form is Dancing girl of the Indus Valley civilization. Dhokra are the West Bengal tribe who are metal smiths. Dhokra is the practice of metal casting. This art form started in the primitive ages before Indus Valley civilization. It is approximately 4500 years old. This is one of the oldest forms of art in India. This art form is also known as Lost- wax Casting. The creation of finely detailed metal items by the use of the cireperdue, or lost wax, technique is called metal casting. This metal casting is named after the tribe of Bengal called Dhokra.
Present Day: This art form is very famous in different areas of Bengal like Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, Bardhaman and Medinipur. It creates different types of products like artefacts, lamps (diyas), anklets, earrings, bangles and other jewellery items. The artifacts are mostly in the form of different animals, birds, humans and other figurines. The artisans also make different types of metal pots, lamps, piggy banks, figures of gods and goddesses etc. These metal items serve as a great decorative and gifting item.
Procedure: Metal crafting is one of the most important crafts of West Bengal. It uses wax technique of metal casting. This art has given birth to beautiful artifacts such as gods and goddesses, bowls, figures of people or deities riding elephants, musicians, horse and rider figures, elephants, cattle, and other figures of people, animals, and birds.
Creating metal items is a fascinating procedure. Firstly, the core is made that is smaller than the size of the item to be made. The clay used is a mixture of two to three clay such as fine clay, river bed clay and clay of termites. This core is then sun dried or dried with heat. Then, a wax model is created around the clay core as per desired thickness. The wax is extracted from natural plant resin from Sal Tree that is then mixed with mustard oil. After this the item is again covered with fine clay. Once this layer is dried again it is covered with clay and molded as per the shape required. The mold is heated to melt the wax. Post this casting of metal is done wherein the melted metal is poured into the cavity to get the desired shape. This is followed by finishing.
Metal Crafts have huge demand overseas and are exported in different parts of the world like USA, U.K, Germany, France, Italy, UAE, Canada etc. These handicrafts have contributed in a big way to Indian economy. This art form is not only famous in India but also in other countries like Egypt, China, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Central America etc.
Bring Home Metal Crafts: You can buy these metal item from different parts of West Bengal and local markets of Bengal.