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States Art and Craft Work

India - Arts and Crafts - Metal Work

Metal Work


Metalwork The clang-clang of blacksmiths and metalworkers is a distinct part of the curious sounds that make the rhythm of rural and small town India. Various nomadic tribes like the gadiya lohars of Rajasthan make iron implements and utensils for daily use while master carvers specialize in idols, lamps and curios. If you happen to visit any state emporium, you’ll find that each state has its own tradition of metal craft. The treatment, as it were, determines the final outcome.


¤ Tribal Metal Craftsmanship

The tribs of Madhya Pradesh make delightfully quirky figures of tribal deities, animals, swings and trishuls (tridents, a symbol of the Hindu deity Shiva) by the dhokra or lost-wax process (see Arts & Crafts of Madhya Pradesh for details). In their simplicity, the artisans work swiftly, spontaneously and without the encumbrance of a pre-meditated design. In sharp contrast emerges the more refined and studied work of master craftsmen who first cast the image and then chisel, file and polish it carefully.
But this is not the end of metal craft. Now comes the tricky and delicate task of decorating metal surfaces. Here are some of the techniques you are likely to spot while buying metal ware.


¤ Bidri

Bidri Named after the town it is practiced in Bidar (in Karnataka), Bidri work is often used to spice up the appearance of bowls, boxes, vases and caskets. Silver and brass are inlaid upon an alloy of zinc and copper which is blackened by dipping the object into a solution of copper sulphate. It is the contrast between the black surface and the shiny inlay that makes the object look dramatic.


¤ Meenakari

Meenakari Enamelling or meenakari was originally meant to protect gold, which in its pure state is so soft and malleable that it can easily wear away. However, the technique soon came to be used for all sorts of objet d’arts. Now before you ask, enameling is a champleve technique, which in simple English means that a recess is hollowed out in the surface of gold or silver to take in a mineral. For example, cobalt oxide, which gives a blue color, is then fired into the depression so as to leave a thin line separating the segments of color. The patterns are usually floral and colored in red, green and blue and can be seen on small jewellery and kumkum boxes.


¤ Tarkashi

Tarkashi The charming technique of laying fine brass or copper wire into carefully chiseled grooves in a metal or wooden surface. The patterns, an amalgam of Rajput and Mughal styles, are floral, leaf and creeper. They are engraved in the surface of the wood and then the metal wire is melted and poured into these.


¤ Thewa

Thewa Pratapgarh in Rajasthan is famous for its brilliant and intricate gold leaf work on red or green glass. The gold leaf is embedded in a cake of shellac, which is cut in the required design. The patterned gold leaf is then placed on the heated glass panel so that the gold fuses with it. Silver foil is often placed under the glass to give it a richer, more glowing look. Patterns may vary from floral to figurative.

Know More About Wrought Iron Crafts and Decoratives.


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