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Dhokra + Kantha + Weaving + Leather + Printing + Jewelry + sasha skills

sasha craft >> Dhokra


Dhokra is one of the earliest methods of non-ferrous metal casting known to human civilization. It existed under different names in all the primitive cultures of the world and was used for making everything from jewelry to utensils to images of Gods. The few metal objects found in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa (ruins of the 5000-year old Indus Valley civilization) has a very strong resemblance to the dhokra objects created by craftsmen today.

 

Dhokra products range from small beads to larger statues of mythical animals and Gods. From a centimetre to 5 feet tall. The larger pieces are more risky to make since there is a lot of wastage involved and are only made by a few master craftsmen.

Originally, these craftsmen were nomads who went from tribe to tribe making their ceremonial and religious figures, ornaments and kitchenware. They were restricted to the materials of their immediate physical surroundings and the process of dhokra matched their nomadic biorhythm. It did not require any fixed place or structure, or any heavy, large tools.

They used wax, resin and firewood from the forests, clay from the river bed and made the firing oven in a hole dug in the ground.

Today, these craftsmen have reached a wider market, thanks to the efforts of various marketing organizations. This has led to a degree of financial prosperity, and has changed their way of living and working.

Process of Dhokra

Step
1/11
Dhokra is the process of making an object first in wax and then casting it in brass. Sometimes, pure bees wax is used, and sometimes pitch is mixed with it, or pure pitch is used. This depends on the fineness required in the piece or the region where the craftsman comes from or how expensive the final piece should be.

Step
2/11
The wax used for the mould is first kneaded by hand like dough. The body heat makes it more malleable. The craftsma uses his entire body in a very strenuous process to extrude the wax, using the tool shown.

Step
3/11
A clay core is made and dried after bring covered by the paste of leaves.

Step
4/11
On this clay core, the wax is applied either as fine noodles or sheet, and intricate patterns are made.

Step
5/11
The next step is to cover the whole thing with thicker clay. A funnel is made on top.

Step
6/11
This funnel is now filled with brass pieces from old brass articles, which are broken into small parts. These could also be leftovers from previous castings or are bought from a shop selling old brass. The brass is covered again with a cup of clay and sealed. This is dried again for a few hours.

Step
7/11
Meanwhile, a hole is dug in the ground for the furnace. Within this, a hole goes sideways to a blower. A metal blower is used to feed the flames.

Step
8/11
The clay mould is put upside down inside the furnace and fired. When the brass is beginning to melt, it gives off a greenish light and this indicates to the craftsman that it is time to take it out of the furnace.

Step
9/11
The brass melts inside the furnace. The craftsman has to guess precisely when the brass is fully melted and take it out from the fire. And the piece is placed right side up again. The wax has melted and the molten brass takes the place of the wax.

Step
10/11
The craftsman waits for the whole piece to cool and then breaks it open. A heart stopping moment... The moulds are broken open to remove the brass objects inside. These are caked with remains of the clay which are first removed roughly with a knife. And then with a wire brush. And then sometimes with a buffing brush.

Step
11/11
In this stage, the mould is destroyed forever, and the next time the same object has to be made, the mould has to be made again from scratch. And this, really is the crux of dhokra, that each and every piece is unique and cannot be repeated exactly.

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Dhokra + Kantha + Weaving + Leather + Printing + Jewelry + sasha skills