Dhokra Metal Art



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The brass sculptures which have a raw finishing, frozen expression and hollow metal may seem incomplete at first but has a pool of emotional and spiritual value which almost through words narrate the stories as the creator would have intended to. Before the cheaper methods of product making came in the market, the tribe of Bengal “Dhokra Damar”, would make “Bell Metal” sculptures by carving on wax. The products would be of Gods and Goddesses, bells lamps and ornaments. In India, the ancient scholarly work called ‘Shilpshastra’ is inspired usually by religion and the artisan would pray to Tvastram before sitting down to make the figure. The clay is collected and rice husk is mixed with it to make it stronger. After drying, the surface is smoothened by rubbing bean leaf. Further, the core is coiled using wax strands and all important details such as ornamentation are done by carving on wax because it is soft and easily malleable. To make the dough soft, they use bee’s wax and nut oil which is passed through sieves to obtain equal thickness.

The first layer in the model is of a mixture of soil and coal dust which gives a perfect inner wall of the mold while the second layer is of a mixture of red soil and rice husk to toughen the outer surface. After this, two holes are made and wax sticks are inserted there to provide a passage for molten air wax. After the piece is sundried it is then fired in a kiln to melt the wax and let it out after which molten brass is poured in those holes. It is then cooled and the brass solidifies. Once the clay mold is chipped off, one can see the brass within having taken the desired form.


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