Known for its rich cornucopia of culture, Bengal is home to some of the finest weaves and crafting techniques that draws enthusiastic admirers from the world over. Whether it is the poush-mela of Shantiniketan or the emporiums strewn across Kolkata, the city is replete with Dhokra jewelleries and home decor items.
Dhokra is a traditional handmade form of non-ferrous metal casting using the earliest known lost wax technique. The term Dhokra traces its origin from the Dhokra Damar tribe of Bastar, Chattisgarh who specialized in lost wax technique. The distant cousins of the Dhokra tribe are also found in the belts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. Lost wax casting is primarily of two types- Solid casting which is popular in South India and Hollow casting which is prominent in Eastern and Central India. The difference between the solid and hollow casting lies in that the former uses the wax to create a mould whereas the highlight of the hollow casting lies in its traditional approach that entails using clay as core instead of wax.
The traditional metal-smith tribes of Bengal “Dhokra Damar” used to carve on wax to make “Bell Metal” sculptures. Being nomadic in nature, they travelled from one village to another and were engaged in fixing up old utensils and selling lost-wax brass figurines.
What is captivating about the Dhokra metallurgy art is that it relies exclusively on natural raw materials. Hollow wax casting technique commences with using a clay core which is around the shape of the final image. This is followed by layering of the clay core with wax from beewax, nut oil and resin from the tree Damara Orientalis. The next step is to cast and carve the wax with finer details and design. The wax is then daubed with layers of clay that assumes the negative form of wax from inside and becomes a mould for the molten metal (brass and bronze) that is later cascaded inside it. Once the metal melts, the clay is removed and water is used to cool it off. Now, the clay is broken and the cast figure is separated from it. The final round includes cleaning of the portions with fine sand to render it a polished look. Since the Dhokra products are handcrafted it lacks symmetry which enhances its earthy and primeval appeal. A Dhokra product can take a month or half a month to be produced!
According to artisan Sushil Sakhuja, “the tribes originally used this art form to create idols of deities, but over a period of time, as spiritual erosion took place, they started making more secular forms used more as artifacts than objects of worship”. A native of Bastar, artist Sakhuja learnt the traditional art form of Dhokra from Shobha Ram Sagar and since then there has been no looking back! He has used twenty years of knowledge of this craftsmanship and extensively worked with the local Dhokra artists. His motto is to revive the art form by training the locals of the region that would also provide them sustainable livelihood. His products reek with an amalgamation of the traditional and contemporary that appeals both to the connoisseurs and commercial market.
How to style Dhokra Jewellery
You can go for batik printed Patiala or a palazzo and team it up with crisp white Chikankari kurti and follow it up with a top bun meticulously set in place with a fish joora-pin made from Dhokra.
If you want to take the saree route then embrace an indigo blue dabu printed saree with contrasting magenta pink blouse and let your inner earthy diva shine through in a resplendent and chic set of Dhokra jewellery. P.S. Dhokra jewellery work best with cotton weaves, hence stack up your closet with you know what!
From where you can buy
So my connoisseurs time to make room for Dhokra. Embrace ethnic style and don’t forget to wear your smile.
Pictures source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, http://handworkz.com, http://i0.wp.com
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