(Last Updated on : 01/03/2014)
Metal craft of West Bengal is well recognised for the proficient creations from various metals like brass, copper, gold, silver and some alloys. The design and ethnicity of the metal crafts has been maintaining the tradition of the ancient India with an amalgamation of modern trends.
The art of making metal craft of West Bengal has been handed down to the present artisans from the past craftsmen who were adept at creating exclusive items since the prehistoric ages. The metal crafts of West Bengal offer an array of items that range from utilitarian items to traditional jewelleries that are done with chisel work and sometimes 'Meenakari' work. Artisans of Bankura, Bishnupur, Ghatal and Chandanpur in Midnapore, are engaged in engraved brass and bell metal work. In addition to this, one of the well appraised forms of metal craft of West Bengal is Dhokra craft which is perhaps the only living tradition of metal image making in Eastern India. This form of craft is named after a tribe and this tribal art is recognised in the present market because of its distinctive style and the wide ranges of items it offers. Dhokra Kamar tribe, however, includes the Malhars of Jharkhand and Sithrias of Orissa (metal craftsmen) as well. The West Bengal metal workers, known as the Dhokras and the Dheppons inhabit the districts of Bankura, Midnapore, Purulia, Birbhum and Burdwan.
The metal craft of West Bengal includes the superb creations of Dhokra craft that include payeri or mol (anklets), hansuli (necklace), earrings and bangles. Besides these, some of the knick knacks made by these artisans are the Buli (piggybank), measuring bowls or paikona of different sizes, a ceremonial finial pot kalas, which is mounted on a wooden pole for festivals. In addition to these items, the artisans create various kinds of ritualistic objects that have immense importance in Hindu religion. images and figures of gods and goddesses, birds and animals, like Lakshmi, Lakshmi-Narayan, pancha pradeep, Siva-Parvati flanked by Ganesh and Kartik, elephants, horses, owls, peacocks etc. Moreover, the Dokras of Netkamla and Bindhyajan are known for creating household items and various jewelleries that are worn by the local tribal women. The people of this community sometimes go to the fairs and markets to sell their creations and thus promoting the art form.
The metal craft of West Bengal is highly acclaimed because of its rich cultural heritage that has given the craft a different dimension in the history of Indian metal craft. Though the ancient tradition has instances of heavy metal work, the contemporary trend has altered the style and with the fusion of tradition and style different jewelleries are created. Apart from them, the metal craft in present time involves creating different items that are extensively used in home décor. Moreover, simple and sleek designs are favoured in contemporary times.