India | Asia
The name “Dhokra” comes from the ancient Dhokra Damar tribes, who were traditionally blacksmiths from West Bengal. Today, most of the Dhokra people are established in a vast mineral-rich territory, known as the “central tribal belt” which is located specifically in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and parts of Andhra Pradesh. In the Bastar District (Chhattisgarh) Dhokra art in bronze and copper is practiced by expert artisans from the Ghadwa community. Interestingly, in local etymology, Ghadwa means "giving shape", and it is through the hands of the men of this community that exquisite sculptures, jewelry and all kinds of utensils are formed. Relying on materials that are immediately available - wax, resin, firewood and clay - the Ghadwa artisans use the “lost-wax” technique for molding bronze and copper that are abundant in the region. The core of the mold is usually made by hand in clay, according to the artist's creativity, and covered with a layer of pure beeswax where the details of the piece are molded. Then, the wax is covered with other layers of clay and, after drying, the mold is placed in a wood oven on the floor. The heating process melts the wax (or resin) and bronze or molten copper is poured into the mold through a hole made in the outer clay layers. The place of the wax is occupied by metal. After cooling, the mold is then broken, the metal is polished and the Dhokra art comes to life. Typically, this entire process can take between 15 to 30 days to complete.
Inspired by mythology, the environment and ancestral rituals, the tribe originally used this art form to create sculptures of deities, animals and human figures in very primitive and simple formats. However, and following the natural course of time and spiritual erosion, the original forms of the objects of worship were adapted to modern artifact formats. More than 4,000 years old, Dhokra art continues to be transmitted and taught, developing into contemporary expressions of creativity that can never be copied, as each Dhokra piece is simply unique.