Loha Shilp Figurines
India | Asia
Loha Shilp, or the use of wrought iron to create dark and crude forms of artifacts, masks and sculptures, is a unique art form from Chhattisgarh.
Since “Loha” means iron and “Shilp” means craft, this technique was originally practiced by the Muria tribes who traditionally used it to produce useful tools for farming and hunting (such as plows, knives and axes). Today, Loha Shilp art is made by artisans from the Lohar community (blacksmiths) who know how to adapt to the demands of the urban market and reinvent their traditional pieces through new and attractive designs, transforming them into innovative products. The aesthetic appeal of the pieces is underlined by a subtle elegance, despite their extreme simplistic forms. They depict scenes typical of the villages and echoes of the rough and dignified way of life of these people.
While the Muria ancestors themselves extracted iron from mines to create these objects, currently the Lohar community uses predominantly recycled iron, obtained in homes and markets, with the abundant Cherangdungri mines also occasionally being used as a source of supply.
The production method is simple, yet efficient: the iron is made malleable by being heated in wood ovens and then carefully shaped with the support of a hammer and forceps. The heating and tapping process is repeated until the iron sheets obtain the desired shape. The mastery of artisans over this art is evident in the fact that there are no joints of any kind in the pieces. To finish the job, a layer of varnish is applied to enhance the luster of the pieces.