Bronze Ware Craft of Chhattisgarh

Origin: Relics of the Mohenjidaro and Harappan civilization assert the significance and antiquity of Dhokra craft. The dancing girl statue discovered at Mohenjodaro is an endorsement to this non- ferrous metals originality. 

For the last 4,000 years, Indian artisans have dedicated their lives to this craft. The walls of the Bastar district speak of the many folk stories married to bronze ware craft.  One such famed tale talks about the origin of small artisan group called Ghadwas. The story goes, around 300 years ago, the ruler of Bastar, Bhan Chand received a Dhokra necklace for his wife.  Smitten by the beauty of this craft and the talent of artisans, he bestowed the title of Ghadwa upon the artisan. 

Ghadwa comes from the word ghalna, spelling to melt and work using wax. As per another theory, the title Ghadwa is born out of the word gadhna meaning to work. In certain districts, the artisans are also titled as Ghasia, Khaser, Mangan, and Vishwakarma.

An old proverb states that a tribals life is incomplete without Dhokra. An indication of the truth behind this proverb is the lives of Ghadwas – both birth and death ceremonies call for Dhokra rituals i.e. using idols crafted out of Dhokra. 

Present Day:  The Government has introduced plethora of initiatives to ensure the Dhokra artisans are well funded. This industry is primarily funded by grants, donations, private corporations, foundations, trusts, etc. 

Over the years, this 4,000 year old craft has evolved. Although there has been enhancement in the age old technique; the motifs have evolved and newer items are made. 

Today, artisans primarily make the following Dhokra craft items - Ganesh, Durga and the Nandi bull, lamps, lamp-stands, spoon, candle-stands, ash-trays, pen-stands, door handles, locks, flower vases, mobile holders, face masks, water jugs, key rings etc. 

Kondagaon and Jagdalpur region is home to the Dhokra craftsmen.  It is believed that more than 600 artisans reside in this area. A few percentage of these craftsmen have introduced structure to their work in the form of self-help groups (SHGs) etc.  Raigarh and Bastar districts are home to beautiful Dhokra crafts. 

The popularity of this craft has invited daily wage workers who have now embraced this craft. They undergo training organized by the Government to create beautiful Dhokra pieces. 

Traditionally, only men had sole rights to this craft. However, today, in line with many other areas, this craft too has opened its doors for womenfolks. 

Procedure:  The raw materials required are brass, Aari Mitti/Chikti Mitti (Black Soil), Bhoosa (Rice Husk), Rui Mitti (Riverside Soil), Gobar (Cow-dung), Lal Mitti (Red Soil), Sem Patta (Bean Leaves), Mome (Wax), Jalawan (Fire Wood), Koyla (Wood Coal). The tools required are Hammer, Wooden mallet, Pichki-pharni, Chisel, Pliers, Tongs and Wire brushes. 

The process includes the following steps: modelling, moulding, de-waxing, casting and finishing.

Bring Home Bronze Ware Craft of Chhattisgarh: Buy these gorgeous craft pieces from the shops of Kondagaon, Jagdalpur, Raigarh and Bastar districts. 

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