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Dhokra art of Chhattisgarh is one of the oldest art form of India. It is believed that dhokra art is 4000-5000 years old; its earliest known lost wax artefact is the dancing girl of Mohenjodaro.  The name “Dhokra” comes from the tribes of the metal smiths of Bastar, Chhattisgarh. Distant cousins of this tribe also extend from Jharkhand to West Bengal and Orissa. Today, Dhokra art is admired all over word and are also in great demand for its prehistoric ease and delightful folk motifs. Dhokra artworks comes in various forms like showpiece, figurines, statue, jewellery, boxes, glass and bowls, home decor, vases and many such artefacts.

(Image Courtesy: CraftingGanesha)

The technique of making dhokra art is very unique and the craftsmen follow the same traditional process to make these artifacts. The fascinating thing about this process is they use only natural raw materials. Normally, a simple figurine could take anywhere between over fifteen to thirty days to make.  Firstly, the basic mold is prepared using fine sand and clay that is found near the river banks. Then the principal material is layered with the mixture of cow dung, rice husk & pure beeswax found in the jungle. Wax threads are then prepared and wound around the clay mold until its entire surface is covered uniformly and decorative aspects are added to the product. A furnace is built above ground with bricks and natural fuel. The clay is then cooked over this furnace where the wax comes out from the drain ducts. The wax burns in the furnace leaving a free channel for the metal to flow. Molten metal (mainly brass and bronze) is poured inside the mold. The molds are taken out after the metal has melted, and half-an-hour later, water is sprinkled to cool them. They are then broken and the cast figures are removed. The portions are retouched and are scrupulously scoured with clean sand to give the products a soft polished look.

(Image Courtesy: CraftCanvas)

As Dhokra art products are entirely handcrafted each product has its unique identity. You can never see similar designs on the same product which makes it look distinguished. Dhokra art products are coming back in trend and demanded worldwide. These products not only add traditional touch but also make the decor look rich and classy.  Dhokra art objects such as men and women in their tribal daily chores, elephants, nandi bulls, dancers, musicians, horses, owls, peacock and other bird motifs, religious figurines, lamps are popular. Although no longer nomadic, there are still clusters of tribal Dhokra artisans in Bengals village Bikna.

(Image Courtesy: WordPress)

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  • Neeraj Shah