One of the earliest methods of non ferrous metal casting into handicrafts and figurines is the Dhokra art. This artform is prevalent in parts of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar. The name Dhokra was initially used to indicate a group of nomadic craftsmen, which is now applied to a variety of beautifully shaped and decorated brassware crafts.
With brass scrap used as the raw material, the Dhokras use a lost-wax process to cast hollow brass objects and images. The desired pattern or the replica of the figures are made with wax on a clay core. This was used to make everything from jewellery to vessels to images of gods, goddesses, animals and birds. The craftsmen made ceremonial and religious figures and kitchenware as well.
One of the best relics of the Dhokra artwork is the ‘Dancing-girl from Mohenjo-Daro civilisation which is almost about 40,000 years old but is best lost wax artefacts.
Who are Dhokras?
The term Dhokra is coined after the Dhokra Damar tribe of West Bengal who are the original metal smiths making these handicrafts. This tribe is mainly based out of the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and parts of Odisha.
The method used to create these one of a kind handicrafts with wax is the hollow casting which is also the traditional method using the clay core. The lost wax hollow casting process consists of developing a clay core which is in the shape of the final cast figure or image. The clay core is then covered with wax and finally shaped and finer details and decorations are made on to them. After the cooking process the molten metal i.e.brass scrap is poured over the wax figure giving it the final look and shape. After this detailed and timely process the products are polished and given final touches by the artisans.