Dhokra, the famous tribal brass sculpture-making tradition of Bastar, was brought alive in the capital during an artist workshop in Lalit Kala Academy’s Garhi Artist Village, East of Kailash. Several artists who represent this rich and age-old lost wax technique in making artistic pieces from metal showcased their art and technique. The highlight though was the interaction the tribal artists had with contemporary sculptors who work in the Garhi artist village.
The family of Mannuram Vaith including him, his wife Triveni and Jitendra Kumar were seen chiselling finished art, designing with wax threads and carving wax sculptures. Along with them, Bal Mukund and Rupesh have come here from Bastar to participate in the camp.
Dr Gayatri Mathur, in charge of the Garhi artist village, says, “Dhokra art is a traditional gem known to our country. The main idea behind this camp is to provide a meeting ground between traditional tribal art and contemporary art. It has been a wonderful interaction. Both sides have learned so much from each other.”
Sunita Lamba, a well-known sculptor was seen trying her hand at the ‘wax string technique’ used by the Dokra artists to create small artwork. Says she, “I felt quite excited trying the wax strings. Initially, I found it a bit challenging but soon I got a hang of it. These tribal artists are masters at their art and it was great to interact with them.”
The workshop that started on August 5, 2022, where around 25 tribal artists have participated, will culminate with a display of the art pieces created on August 13 at the Garhi art village itself.
Rupesh, a tribal artist from Bastar says, “Creating metal artwork is something that we have been doing for generations. I learned it from my family elders. It is a good feeling that people are taking so much interest in our art and especially in trying to find out the technique that we use.”
The Dhokra technique
The Dhokra art technique involves first the creation of a clay base for the art piece. This base is then covered with a layer of wax. This is the stage where all the detailing work is done using wax and wax strings. Once that is done, the art piece is then covered with a couple more layers of clay leaving an outlet for the melted wax (when the piece is put in a furnace). Once this is done the piece is put in a furnace. After the wax melts away leaving its impression on the clay, molten metal (a mix of brass, iron, and bell metal) is poured into the clay mold. The metal solidifies in a couple of hours. The clay mold is then broken open to reveal the metal art piece which is then finished with a bit of rubbing.