Origin: Roots of metal craft in Madhya Pradesh lie in its production of Iron and Copper. Abundance in natural resources drove the creation of metal craft. There is no pin-point in history available to know when metal crafts emerged, however archaeological finds prove that usage of metal is as old as the Harappan civilization of 5000 years ago or closer home to the Gupta empire where metal coins circulated, dating back to 320 CE (roughly 2500 years ago).
Naturally available resources leak their way into local customs and traditions, and Madhya Pradesh is no different. It is customary in some parts of Madhya Pradesh to give iron diyas to daughters when they are wed.
The main metal craftsmanship of Madhya Pradesh is iron casting followed by lost wax metal casting. Iron and copper being the most produced metal in the state, MP or Madhya Pradesh also produces items made of copper or brass which is an alloy of copper and zinc, or bronze.
Madhya Pradesh has excelled in metal casting, blacksmiths wield their hammers to bend the hot iron to their will to create dazzling iron sculptures. While lost wax casting is used primarily by the communities of Dhruva, Bhatra, Muria and Gond. These communities have been in the trade for generations, and are still passing it on to future generations.
Present Day: Even though diyas, deities and bells are still produced in high numbers, blacksmiths of Madhya Pradesh have kept pace with the changing times and now produce a variety of things including lamps, furnitures, animal figurines, candle stands, utility items, boxes, toys and a whole range of decoration items.
Procedure: Iron, or Brass is heated and the molten is poured into moulds and/or hammered and beaten into the required shape.
Lost wax casting (Bharai Kaam) is chiefly a tribal craft, where a wax mould is created from an existing item, so in essence an exact negative is made. Once the wax has dried, hot metal is poured into the wax mould, after the metal has hardened, the wax is drained away.
There is another art of Metal Handicrafts which makes use of wired metal. This technique is famous in Tikamgarh. This wired art is famous for making traditional utensils and tribal jewelry like paayal (anklet), bichua (toe ring), maala(necklace)... etc
These handicrafts are exported all across the world and are frequently exhibited in Japan, France, Australia, USA and other countries.
Bring Home: You can find these metal handicrafts at various emporiums like MP State Emporium in Bhopal, GTB nagar and New Market in Bhopal, Tribal Craft markets, and Handicrafts emporium in Indore. For animal, human figurines and traditional utensils, one can head to Jabalpur and Tiakamgarh. Kavera in Shivpuri district of MP is famous for it’s delicate work in Iron. The city of Sagar is involved in making beautiful tribal jewellery .Metal handicrafts are also available in local markets of Datia, Betul, Rajgarh, and Bundelkhand region.