I acquired this Dhokra statue of dancing Krishna from an artist selling his wares on the road in Kathmandu
height 12 inches
Dhokra is an ancient folk art tradition prevalent in India in the eastern states of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Dhokra craft objects are made through the process of non-ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique, which is one of the earliest and most advanced methods of metal casting known to human civilization. Its roots can be traced back 4500 years to the ancient city of Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley Civilization.
The name Dokra or Dhokra was used to indicate a group of craftsmen of nomadic type from the Dhokra Damar tribe, scattered over the regions of Bengal, Orisa and Madhya Pradash, whose wares were identified by their beautifully shaped and decorated metal products. The enchanting Dhokra art objects have motifs inspired by indigenous folk culture and are characterized by a primitive, instinctive style. The main hallmark of the Dokra ornamental sculptures and goods is simplicity, charming folk motifs, a rustic beauty and imaginative, intricate designs and patterns.
The ancient Dhokra technique
Using inspiration from their mythology, environment and simple rituals, the Dhokra sculptor makes a core model of clay from fine riverbed soil mixed with coal dust and rice husks, as this mixture brilliantly takes on the textures and shapes of the later applications of wax, resulting in a perfect inner wall of the mold. After it has dried, it is decorated with strings of wax to create fine detailing and patterns. The Dhokra artisans use a mixture of bee’s wax, resins from the tree ‘Damara Orientallis’ and nut oil to make the dough soft and malleable.
Mixing fine river bed clay with coal dust and rice husk
Photo — Parul Bajoria
The black wax structure (right) is an exact replica of the final brass metal owl.
Next in the process is the application of small amounts of a fine clay paste over the wax replica which is then dried out in the shade. This is followed by applying a thicker outer layer of a red soil and rice husk mixture, which have holes on the top for adding the molten metals. The piece is sundried and then fired in the ‘Bhatti’ (traditional kiln), where the wax melts and exits the mould. The final stage is pouring molten brass through the same holes.
Fine wet mud is applied on top of the wax sculpture to create an outer mould.. This takes the impression of the wax model.
Creating Dhokra forms by pouring molten brass/bronze into the wax loss moulds
This technique of casting revolves around replacement of wax loss crevices with molten metal by the traditional hollow casting method. After cooling, the cast is then removed to be given the finishing touches of cleaning and polishing.
Folk art objects such as men and women in their daily chores, elephants, musicians, dancers, horses, temple deities, peacocks, owls, religious images, measuring bowls, and lamp caskets are popular. Although no longer nomadic, there are still clusters of Dhokra artisans in Bengal, as can be found in a small village called Bikna, just outside of Bankura town.
Final Dhokra procedure of breaking the outer mould before finishing touches
Nandi Bull – Kushal Bhansali
Brass & bronze Dhokra sculpture – Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh , India
8 x 6 inches
Indian Dhokra wall art
Ganesha riding an elephant
Antique tri legged Dhokra pot
Dhokra sculpture of a man seated on a peacock
Dhokra head sculptures from Basta, Chattishgarh
Dhokra sculpture figurines
Dhokra brass lantern
Indian brass nutcracker horse
( bought in an antique store in Mumbai )
Peacock lidded Dhokra vessel
Reclining female Dokra figurine
Tribal Art of Odisha
Dhokra Art – Nandi bull and Lion
Dhokra Pisces earrings
Dhokra planter with succulants
Dhokra head bust
Tribal Pen Stand
Handcrafted Dhokra horse
Bastar Tribe, India
Dhokra Art – Three men riding a horse
Culture Art Group
Dhokra tribal art
Saraswati, Ganesh and Lakshmi Dhokra statues
Pechak Pedi Owl Coffer – Sithulia community of Orissa’s Dhenkanal district
Dhokra lantern and incense censer
Oval lidded vessel – Pechak Pedi
Sithulia community of Orissa’s Dhenkanal district
Dhokra artisan pasting clay over wax model
Three Men Rowing a Mayurpankhi Boat in Dhokra style
Dhokra tribal mask
A seated brass Ganesha with mosaic stones
Horse with Wings