Saturday, August 7, 2010


India is an epicentre of gold, silver and metal crafts in the world. Thousands of articles are made out of one or more pieces of metal and the Indian craftspersons have excelled in this art. Hence, metal ornaments have been a rave in all ages and times. The attractive contrasts in colors and textures of metals has led to the evolution of metal ornamentation through techniques like inlay, overlay, appliqué, fixing of colours etc.

SOM met some of the metal craftsmen, who have come all their way from various parts of the country to exhibit their talent at Anantha Yatre, a meet on tribal and analogous cultures, organised by Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya at Wellington House on Irwin Road. The meet will conclude on Aug. 12. Excerpts:

Iron Art Work

Hailing from Chattisgarh, Nand Lal Vishwakarma, a member of Lohar community and State awardee, specialises in large wrought iron sculptures of animals and tribal deities. Though it looks very simple, it requires huge skill to shape flat metal into intricate designs. The figurine is heated from time to time to make the metal more malleable. Apart from articles of rural requirement like plough, spade, sickle, etc, Nand Lal skillfully creates iron lamps in various sizes & shapes, figurines of horse, deer, peacock, decorative gates for government institutional buildings and masks for foreign clients.

Another artist Hanuman Lohar Tonk from Rajasthan started making tools and artistic items out of iron at the age of 16 under the guidance of his father. His work shows evidence of acute observation of nature. Different designs of artistic items are moulded and after that they are given shape by hand-chiseling & polishing. Hanuman has received State Award in Iron Art work.

Kosuru Brahmaji Bobbili from Andhra Pradesh is a traditional metal craft artist of brass and bronze works. He learnt the craft work from his father. Their main works are related to temples like lamps, bells, ritual images and different kinds of statues.

Dhokra craft

Dhokra is lost wax technique to cast non-ferrous metals. A group of artisans from Chattisgarh are modeling exquisite figurines and motifs in bell wax. The themes are generally drawn from folk and tribal culture.

First they make a model in fine clay to main mitti. Then thin fine clay is filtered through fine cloth for a smooth texture and later it is packed carefully. This mould of fine clay is then coated in a mixture of laal mitti and bhoosa (husk) and then left to dry in sun. Openings are left in the mould for the bee wax to subsequently drain out. After the metal is glowed in a stone crucible the mou-lds are baked in a nearby furnace till the bee wax flows out of the mould completely leaving behind a cavity and later the molten metal will be poured into the mould from the opening and the moulds are left to cool and they become harder.

Artist Udai Ram Jhara, a member of Jhara community (Chattisgarh), is engaged in metal casting by ‘lost wax process’. He is an expert in this technique. He has participated in many camps in India and bagged Rashtrapathi award.

Another artist Meera is a renowned Gharwa artisan from Bastar region of Chattisgarh. She has also exhibited her bell metal craft work (Dhokra craft).

Brass Work

Artist Ram Swaroop Soni, a member of the Soni community in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, is engaged in metal casting by ‘lost wax process’. He is an expert in this technique and has participated in many camps in India. His work includes small bells, lamps, decorative figures of gods and goddeses, animals and household articles.

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