(Last Updated on : 01-03-2014)
The metal craft of Himachal Pradesh stands exemplary as the antique metal statuettes are one of the most significant aspects in many temples of Himachal Pradesh. The statues of gods and goddesses also appear as 'mohras' or in metal plaques.
The metal crafts of Himachal Pradesh not only serve the religious purpose but they serve as utilitarian items also. As per the history, the metal craft in Himachal Pradesh grew because the courts of the Himachal kings had the craftsmen who were specialised in metalware in the 600 AD. Since that age, the artisans have been practicing the art and have mastered in this field of exclusive creations. The statuettes at temple entrances in Brahmaur, Chamba and the Vajreshwari Devi temple in Kangra are glaring examples of excellent craftsmanship. Even the temple doors of Vajreshwari Devi, Jwalamukhi in Kangra, Bhimkali in Sarahan and Chandika Devi in Kinnaur exhibit the Repousse technique in which the craftsmen excelled. A canopy made of gold at the Jwalamukhi temple is one of the most admired examples of the metal craft of Himachal Pradesh, which is believed to have been gifted by the Mughal emperor Akbar. The metalwork of Kinnaur portrays a unique fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism. Even some items that include ritual cups, daggers, kettles, jugs, prayer wheels, conch trumpets etc are also made of metals. The bronze figurines, particularly those of goddess Durga killing the demon Mahisha, are common as the household items. Low settees made of silver or brass are another common ritual artifact used in homes as well as temples, besides bells, incense burners, lamps, jars, flasks, tridents, fly whisks and canopies. Not only for the religious purpose, metal is also used for household purposes in Himachal Pradesh. Brass is often used for trending household utensils. The metal craft of Himachal Pradesh include the usage of metals like brass, copper, iron, tin and bell metal. Moreover, 'lota' which is a small globular pot for storing water, is a common item and is available in so many different forms all over the state. Including these, beautifully fashioned teapots, smoking pipes, carved panels, doorknobs and various other metal artifacts are found in the well off families. Bilaspur, Chamba, Kupa, Rekong Peo, Rohru, Sarahan and Jogindernagar are some places where exclusive items of metal craft are found.
The metal craft of Himachal Pradesh also has the tradition of making beautiful metal jewelleries that are artistically created keeping in mind the tradition of the place. The Pahari jewelleries are artistically made and carry the charm that have a distinct style that is borrowed from nature itself. The Pahari variant of the torque is a long necklace of numerous chains linked together by silver plaques. Chandanhaar is a necklace comprising five or seven rows of facetted gold beads. The Pahari women prefer to wear ornaments like Chokers, heavy anklets, bangles and silver bracelets. Coin necklace is considered to be one of the most famous among the jewelleries. Most well praised metal jewellery is the choker which is called 'kach' and consists of silver beads and triangular plaques. The people of this area wear earrings that are often worn with drops or granulations, nose studs that are embedded with precious and semiprecious stones. The artisans create 'Chiri tikka' which is a flat piece of silver, enamelled or embedded with pearls and suspended from the centre of the forehead while several chains hang along the hairline on both sides.
As the metal craft of Himachal Pradesh is largely signified with the exclusive jewelleries created by the expert artisans, the place has a great variety of jewelleries to offer maintaining tradition of the state. Among the huge variety of jewelleries, 'jutti' is a heavy bunch of silver tassels or flowers, attached to the plait. On the other hand, 'beshtar' is tied to the plait ends. According to the belief and the tradition of the people of Himachal Pradesh, to ward off evil spirits women and children often wear silver amulets. In lower Himachal, there is a marked preference for gold ornaments while deeper in the villages, silver is more common. Each community has a distinct style of jewellery that is different from one another and the jewelleries vary according to it. The items created by the artisans of once Rajput kingdoms of Kangra, Chamba, Mandi and Kullu stans exemplify their creative excellence in enameling. Among the items, the lavishly created anklets, solid iron-headed bangles, hair ornaments, leaf shaped forehead ornaments, necklaces known as chandanhaars and pendants with motifs of the mother goddess are placed in the list of appraisal. Moreover, heavy anklets, bangles and silver bracelets, solid or filled with shellac with clasps in the shape of crocodile or lions heads are worn by all women of Himachal Pradesh. Another type of ornament that are said to be influenced by the Tibetan, Lahaul-Spiti, are studded with semi precious stones like coral, turquoise, amber and mother-of-pearl.
As the jewelleries occupy a huge space in the metal craft of Himachal Pradesh, the market exhibit a huge range of jewelleries that are specified at Moti Bazaar in Mandi, Chaugan bazaar in Chamba, Kangra town, Sultanpur and Kullu. There is also a village called Sunarion ki Gaon near Rohru, where many families are engaged in jewellery fashioning.