Origin: For generations, the innocent tribes of India have introduced the world to magnificent crafts. One such beautiful craft that is born out of non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique is the Dhokra craft. The name Dhokra is derived from the Dhokra Damar tribes, traditionally metal smiths.
For over 4,000 years, tribals have indulged in Dhokra craft. A testimonial of this craft is the famous statue of Mohenjo-daros dancing girl. Indus Valley Civilization, Rome as well as in Egypt housed the artisans that made brass jewellery. However, India has been the largest brass making country in the world, committed to this craft for the last 5000 years.
Present Day: The craft of Dhokra jewellery continues to remain within the four walls of a family. As this technique is still passed down from one generation to another.
The nomadic community does metal casting work as they move from one place to another picking up old brass scrap. Even today, this artistic community remains isolated from modern influences. However, the makers have now given a contemporary expression to this ancient technique. Initially, the motifs of gods and goddesses, floral shapes and rustic designs were used. Now, craftsmen lend an international appeal to their work.
Artisans have started selling their jewellery items at exhibitions as they cannot still afford an outlet. The year 2017 brought tribal jewellery in vogue and jewellery lovers were buying these rustic Dhokra jewellery. The demands for Dhokra jewellery are huge in domestic as well as foreign markets.
Procedure: The raw materials required are brass metal, bell metal, Bees wax (mohum), clay bees-wax threads, coal, mustard oil, dhuna (extracted from the Sal tree). The tools needed are Furnace (bhatti), Sulka (to give impressions), Small chisel (nihan), big chisel (batani), Hammer, Graphite container to melt brass (kui), Tongs (chimta).
The first stage of the technique of Dhokra jewellery making is core making. A clay core is crafted using fine sand and clay. Some artisans also add goat and cow dung while making clay core. The size of this clay core is smaller than the required size of the jewellery.
The clay core is then painted with pure beeswax. A comprehensive wax model is layered around the core. This step is carried keeping in mind the desired thickness of the finished object. The wax model is an impression holding every detail of the model.
Once the wax is dried, more layers of clay are added to the mould. Now, the mould is pre-heated. This step washes off the molten wax leaving a cavity of the required size, shape and surface. This cavity is a contour of the desired jewellery.
Next step is to pour molten metal into the cavity and let the mould cool. Lastly, finishing is done by breaking the mould and removing traces of baked clay.
Bring Home Dhokra Jewellery: Stop by at artisan fairs and pick yourself these handcrafted pieces of treasure.