Indian brassware is popular all over the world. Sheets of brass are transformed into marvelous objects of art. Metal engraving is an ancient craft, which finds reference in the vedas. Archeological findings of the copper tools of 300 B.C. at pre - Harappan sites of Baluchistan and Kali Bangan in Rajasthan, reveal the existence of metal ware in Indian sub-continent.
The antiquity of use of iron in India is proved by its reference in our earliest literature, the Vedas, as also instructions on tempering it to make steel. The iron beams of Konarak Sun Temple in Orissa and the iron pillar at Kutab Minar in Delhi are two out of numerous examples of the durability of the old iron works in this country.
Fine Arts of Brassware
Brassware items cover a wide range and include vases, perforated lamps, tabletops, fruit bowls, planters, jewellery boxes, and picture frames. There are embellished with various kinds of engraved motifs - flowers, landscapes, jungle scenes and geometric patterns.
Brass casting is done by the Kansaris and items produced include icons mainly Radha Krishna, Laxmi, pot bellied Ganesha, Vishnu and crawling Krishna called Gurundi Gopal, bells or ghanti, lamp stand or rukha and lamps or dipa. The major items manufactured in the beating process are plates or thali, deep round containers called Kansa, small containers called `gina` (tumbers), water containers called gara and buckets or baltis, large cooking utensils and storage vessels called handi, various types of pots and pans, ladles or Chatu, perforated flat cooking spoons etc. There are also a number of items used for puja or worship. Of these, the important are, the ghanta or the gong and thali for offering of the food to the deities.
Procedure of Brassware making
A thin coating of lac is applied on the article, for the engraved wares. A design is traced out on a metal ware. A pattern is traced on the part of the object to be engraved, with the aid of a pencil. Engraving is done by controlled strokes with the thapi on the chisel, which touch the surface of the designed part. The engraving is done in three styles, viz, chikan, a motif of bold flower decoration which stands out against the chased and lacquered surface, marori, minute lacquered patterns covering the entire surface, and bidri, minute leaves and flowers in an all-over design on a chased and lacquered surface.
The process consists of preparation of the material by melting the required material in the crucible and then placing the molten metal into an earthenware container. After molten metal sets, it is taken out and after repeated hammering and beating the desired shape is given. Sometimes for making a single item two or three pieces are separately made and joined mostly with rivets. In few places the surface of the items are also engraved with various designs including floral and geometric patterns besides human and animals figures and occasionally they are also painted with enamel paints. The items produced by the beating process are many and the designs also vary from place to place.
Artifacts of Brassware
Vases, perforated lamps, table tops, fruit bowls, planters, jewellery boxes, picture frames, animal figures, toys, hukkas, wine jugs, water-bottles, surahis. Thali , plates, kansa , tumbers, water containers, buckets, utensils, handi storage vessels, various types of pots and pans, ladles or chatu, perforated flat cooking spoons, ghanta, gong etc.