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Exploring the Rich Heritage of Dokra Art

Dokra, an ancient form of metal crafting can be traced back to as early as the Indus Valley Civilization. The word Dokra or 'Dhokra' comes from the Dhokra Damar tribe of nomadic origin. Dokra art consists of a technique of metal casting of non-ferrous metal alloys like brass and bronze. It was a first of its kind ‘lost-wax’ casting method adapted by artisans in Bankura, Bikna and Dwariyapur, Burdwan.

The ‘karmakars’ or metalworkers of Bankura and Burdwan use traditional symbolism in their metal figurines. There is an abundance of the Bankura horse, owls, elephants, tortoises and as is the norm various Hindu deities are a common topic of depiction.

This metal crafting art was predominantly practised in the metal-rich rural and tribal belts of East India. Through the expert craftsmanship of Dokra artisans, almost lifelike intricate detailing and fine patterns can be seen to adorn the metal figurines. The process of creating a single Dokra figurine is time-consuming and laborious. It needs care and finesse to finish every unique piece. Sold at exorbitant prices overseas, Dokra pieces are some of the finest specimens of Bengal’s rich craftsmanship. However, the local craftsmen often do not get their due recognition. Attempts are being made by different government enterprises as well as NGOs to revive the condition of the metalsmiths and boost the production of Dokra artworks.