About Dhokra

The traditional lost wax technique is simple and ideal for use in tribal settings. The craftsman begins by winding a slim thread of wax over the contours of a clay core . It is then thickly coated with fine clay obtained from termite bills, and baked on drying leaving a narrow vent to melt away the wax. The vacuum created between the core and the clay layer is filled with molten metal, which is then allowed to cool down and solidify. The moment that follows is loaded with anticipation, for it is then that the outer clay mould is cracked open, revealing the beauty of the final sculpture. Simple as this whole process seems, it requires great precision and skill. The metal must be able to flow uniformly and freely through the narrow spaces, and replace the wax without forming any bubbles or gaps.

Cow dung, paddy busk and red soil are also used in the manufacture of DHOKRA artifacts. However, of all the raw materials used by the GHADWAS, the most important is beeswax. Besides the essential contouring, wax wires and pieces are also used because of its extraordinary high plastic content and pliability, generating a rudimentary but powerful stimulus for the intensive design and faculties of the artisans.

Examples of the lost wax casting (also known as 'cire perdue') are found across the globe, but the coiled thread technique is unique to Bastar, Chhattisgarh. A glance at the traditional baskets provides a clue to its origin. The basket makers would wind grass around a rope, which was then coiled into shape. The same technique was translated into metal only much later, which forest dwellers being dependent on natural products like Nandi, Horse, Elephant, Ganesha, Candle holder, Candle stand long before they began to use metal. Metal anklets with basket weave motifs, and beautiful containers reminiscent of wicker baskets also point towards such a transition.