As you traverse the craft-flecked landscape that covers the country, you will witness a grand spectacle of vivid colors, magnificent designs and artifacts. Odisha for instance, has harbored and fostered centuries-old crafts within its fold. Dhokra is one such craft.
Dhokra art was started by the metal smith's community more than four thousand years ago. It has been used in designs on usable items like cutlery, home decor, jewellery etc. It has given India eminence by virtue of it being one of the oldest metal smith artistry forms in the world. Most of the artifacts revolve around tribal deities and folk characters and their stories. A lot can be done to use the same art for changing needs of the world.Metal smith community of Dhokra Damar tribe who are settled in the central part of India (the regions of Odisha, West Bengal and Chhatisgarh) is engaged in making handmade metal craft popularly known as "Dhokra art".
They continue to use the age of old technique of the lost wax method that was used even during the times of Indus valley civilization. Designs are made on a clay tablet with threads of bee wax. Another layer of clay is added to mould after the wax settles. And then the molten metal is put between the two clay layers. The wax burns out and the metal settles in place. When the clay mould is broken the shinning metal comes out in the desired shape. Mostly, Women are engaged in laying the design part on clay tablets. While men were taking care of rest of the activities like making wax strands, putting the clay moulds on fire, breaking it, arranging the finished product. And lastly, making effort to sell it. Their craft has in a way become their vehicle to see the world. While providing the world a vision into their own way of life. Conquering one of the prime purposes of the art to communicate across all man-made divides.
The Dhokra Damar Tribe of West Bengal celebrating a cultural festival.
As you near the end of the journey, folding the map and tucking it away into memories, you will realize that you have covered a very small part of the Indian handicraft landscape. As global acclimatization leads some to believe that handicrafts are a lost art. There are still others who continue to back these promising handicraft art. The same crafts that have formed the landscape of India's handcrafted heritage are relentlessly reinventing themselves to fit into modern homes. Even today nothing can replace the significance of something made with hands and with heart. Although, artifacts made with more man-made or non-natural materials today, Indian Handicrafts and the people that are involved in making them, must be valued or given the due appreciation and recognition. It is time, we embraced them. Let's invite them in and bring a little more India, home.