As intricate and detailed as the art form is, its place of production is usually quite humble, and it is the inherited talent, dedicated efforts and the sheer simplicity that has kept the rustic art alive so far.
With her hand on her hip, a multi-pendant necklace around her neck and 25 bangles on one arm, the “dancing girl,” a tiny bronze statuette in Delhi’s National Museum, embodies Indians’ love for accessorising.
The bronze girl was made using the lost-wax casting technique, and interestingly enough, the 4500-year-old craft, known as Dokra, is still alive in West Bengal and a few other parts of the country.
Imagine the civilisations, empires and eras it has witnessed!
Get closer to our history with the art that also made the iconic Mohenjo-daro statue. Click here to choose from gorgeous pieces of the Dokra [or Dhokra] jewellery.
What is Dokra art?
The earliest known method of casting non-ferrous metals, Dokra art deals with statues, wall decor as well as jewellery. Originally, the name was used to describe the nomadic craftsmen and women. Now, however, it describes the art form itself.
As intricate and detailed as the artform is, its place of production is usually quite humble, and it is the inherited talent, dedicated efforts and the sheer simplicity that has kept the rustic art alive so far.
Contribute to the artisans’ efforts. Click here to own a piece of jewellery that originated somewhere around 2500 BCE.
What are Dokra pieces made of?
Dokra accessories only make use of the abundantly-available natural resources. A mixture of riverside sand, clay and goat/cow dung or husk forms the base for the art pieces. After the structure dries, a layer of beeswax is applied to it, followed by another layer of clay.
This outermost layer is smoothened using a paste of cow dung and water, and all the finer details are carved into it. When the desired thickness is achieved, the sculpture or jewellery is heated to melt the wax. Holes are made in the clay layers to allow it to flow away.
Once all the wax melts, the clay structure forms a mould. Metal is poured in through the cavities, and when it dries, the outer clay layer is broken off.
This making of the mould and breaking it off means that no two Dokra pieces are ever the same. Tedious as it may be, it adorned ancient Harappan men, women and children.
And it can make you stand out too!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)