Origin: Dastar, the land of age old handicraft communities in Chattisgarh, wears the crown of being one of the richest location in iron ore deposits. This led to Gond and Maria tribes playing with the abundant iron and establishing lohar communities. This community’s first job was to provide daily need tools for agriculture and hunting purposes. With time, their skills evolved and the community lohars dipped their hands in new materials and techniques.
Traditionally, worshipers of Budha dev, Gond tribe believe their God resides in saja tree. Once this humble tribe understood the miraculous strength of iron they started seeing God in it too. They built cemented platforms beneath the saja tree to place religious symbols such as iron tridents, spears and chains. Soon after, ironsmiths started crafting religious art forms such as diya, figurines of Budha Dev etc.
Talent cannot remain hidden and thus this craft soon brought glory to the religious ironsmiths who travelled across the globe with their craft. The exposure found expression in their craft. The lohars passed down this skill as part of their heritage to the next generation and next.
Present Day: The iron-craft is protected under the geographical indication (GI) of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. It is listed at item 82 as "Bastar Iron Craft" of the GI Act 1999 of the Government of India with registration confirmed by the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.
The Government has adopted copious steps to encourage this craft. In 1993, Chattisgarh Handicrafts Development Board had set up Shilpgram Sevagram Narayanpur to help local craft. Through craft, this institution also helps in the rehabilitation of naxal hit zones. This campus also trains tribals.
Even today, it continues to flourish in Bastar district. The other regions that have established themselves as iron craft centers are Kondagaon, Umargaon and Gunagaon.
Procedure: The raw materials used for the craft are iron scrap, furnace, hammer, forceps, tongs and chisels. Since the bygone era, lohars make their own tools. Firstly, hot scrap iron is repeatedly beaten at chosen spots to achieve desired shape. Secondly, all the unrequited portions are chopped off and filled. Lastly, its painted with varnish coat to add luster.
Bring Home Iron Craft of Chattisgarh: Decorate your house with this age old iron craft of Chattisgarh. To buy this craft stop by at Kondagaon, Umargaon and Gunagaon. You can also buy this beauty from various online portals.