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Dhokra the lost art of wax metal casting

Dhokra The Lost Art of Wax Metal Casting

As she entered her new role in married life, she was given a set of dhokra brass and bell metal utensils as her dowry. This was the traditional norm of the Kansari tribe in Orissa wherein they used scrap metal pieces of brass and bell metal to make items especially relating to folklore in this long lost ancient metal wax casting process called dhokra which according to popular legend, existed since over 4000 years ago, the evidence lying in the famous dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro among other items!

Source: blogspot, dollsofindia, pintrest

Dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro, a dhokra bullock cart and bell respectively.

It is interesting to note that this craft was practiced by the tribal communities, in areas of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and parts of Andhra Pradesh because these areas were rich in minerals, though in contemporary times this ancient craft has even travelled to south India

To make dhokra articles, the artisan first makes a basic clay mould over which wax threads are wrapped. Over this wax layer, another layer of clay is given and ducts are made in the casing. When hot molten metal is poured into the clay, the wax melts and drains through the ducts thus taking the shape of the inner clay mould, and forming the metal cast.

Source: sashaworld
The process of dhokra jewellery making.

In today’s times, the need for traditional dhokra utensils is transforming into the demand for dhokra jewellery which is becoming very popular. Brass is used for making dhokra beads. Each bead is unique in the sense that it is hand beaten and handmade. Vasudha Bhandari, an Indian designer understands the importance and value of traditional Indian craft. She has visited clusters all over India to studydifferent crafts and markets and has started working closely with different craftsmen.

Amongst her projects she has worked with the dhokra technique and made jewelry pieces wherein the jewelry collection of hand-crafted and hand-beaten brass beads, attempts to offer a rare combination of traditional heritage and contemporary designs. The approximate time taken to make a piece of jewelry is about 2-3 days.

Bunosilo believes in keeping this fascinating ancient art alive especially because it is an ancient heritage and a beautiful craft that definitely should be preserved.

Words by Vanessa Fernandez


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