Dhokra or Dokra is an art form created in the “lost wax casting” method. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. The product of dhokra artisans are in great demand in domestic and foreign markets because of primitive simplicity, enchanting folk motifs and forceful form. Dhokra horses, elephants, peacocks, owls, religious images, measuring bowls, and lamp caskets etc., are highly appreciated.
The “Dancing Girl” or “Dancing Woman Idol” found in the city of Mahengdora, Indus Civilization, is a symbol of the Dokra art. One of the earliest known lost wax artefacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro.
The lost wax technique for casting of copper based alloys has also been found in China, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Central America, and other places.
It is believed that this industry originated in Bastar and Chhattisgarh in Madhya Pradesh. Later spread to Jharkhand and Bihar. Later it spread to the states of West Bengal and Orissa. West Bengal is one of the most popular names in the Dokra industry.
The Dokra art system is a complex and time-consuming, fine art work. First, the artists collect red or white soil from the pond and make clay molds; After that, the soil is made by hand to create a structure. The wax, oil is applied to the structure. At the end, soft clay is given. After that it is burned. As a result, the wax comes out through a hole in the throat. After that the melted brass is poured and the idol is collected when solidified. The statue is then rubbed with rubbing paper.
There are two types of wax casting method. One is the solid method, and the other is the Dola method. While the solid method is popular in South India, the Dolla method is most commonly used in Central and Eastern India. Mold is made using wax instead of clay in solid form. But clay is traditionally used in hollow.
The clay paste is made in the form of hollow wax and the original mold. Gum from the Damara Orientalis tree, a wax made of honey and nut oil from the honeycomb, is cast into the clay mold. Immediately the wax turns into a toy shape we thought. Layer layers of clay on this mold. If we can dissolve the metal we want into this hollow mold, then the metal toy is made. The Bastar Dhokra dolls are made mostly of brass. Hot metallic liquid is poured into the mold. The top layer of clay is removed and polished to the original metal toy. These Bastar Dhokra dolls are very popular for making these.
There are two main processes of lost wax casting: solid casting and hollow casting. While the former is predominant in the south of India the latter is more common in Central and Eastern India. Solid casting does not use a clay core but instead a solid piece of wax to create the mould; hollow casting is the more traditional method and uses the clay core.
The first task in the lost wax hollow casting process consists of developing a clay core which is roughly the shape of the final cast image. Next, the clay core is covered by a layer of wax composed of pure beeswax, resin from the tree Damara orientalis, and nut oil. The wax is then shaped and carved in all its finer details of design and decorations. It is then covered with layers of clay, which takes the negative form of the wax on the inside, thus becoming a mould for the metal that will be poured inside it.
Drain ducts are left for the wax, which melts away when the clay is cooked. The wax is then replaced by the molten metal, often using brass scrap as basic raw material. The liquid metal poured in hardens between the core and the inner surface of the mould. The metal fills the mould and takes the same shape as the wax. The outer layer of clay is then chipped off and the metal icon is polished and finished as desired.
Dhokra art in West Bengal
Dhokra of West Bengal are some of the art patternsIn West Bengal, the Dokra industry flourished several hundred years ago. Mainly from Jharkhand, the industry spread through Purulia and spread to various districts in the western part of the state. One of those districts is Bankura, Burdwan, Purulia and West Midnapore. Bankura District-Bikana, Khatdar Lakshisagar, Ladna, Chatna, Shabberia, West Bengal. The main centers of Docker industry are located in Dariapur and Purulia Nadia, Burdwan-Guskara. Among these, Dikyapur of Bankura and Bardhaman are notable. The fame of these two places is the fame of the art industry.
For this industrial work, Shubham Karmakar was awarded the President’s Award in 7, Haridhan Karkar of Daryapur in 7, and President of Motor Carrier in 1.
Dhokra Damar tribes are the main traditional metalsmiths of West Bengal and Odisha. Their technique of lost wax casting is named after their tribe, hence Dhokra metal casting. The tribe extends from Jharkhand to West Bengal and Orissa; members are distant cousins of the Chhattisgarh Dhokras. A few hundred years ago, the Dhokras of Central and Eastern India traveled south as far as Kerala and north as far as Rajasthan and hence are now found all over India. Dhokra, or Dokra, craft from Dwariapur, West Bengal, is popular. Recently Adilabad Dokra from Telangana got Geographical Indicator tag in 2018.
At present the state of the industry is not very good. The main reason for the increase in prices of various raw materials. Besides, government propaganda is low. There is a dearth of artists in many places. Currently, the government of West Bengal is working to promote Dokra industry.