The Method of Producing Dhokra Crafts
The ingredients used to produce the Dhokra crafts are brass, wax and frankincense and the procedure of making the crafts is known as ‘lost wax’ in English and ‘Chirey Pardeau’ in French. The process can be explained as a kind of metal work with wax moulds. During ancient period, this method was called Madhuchhishta Bidhanam.
Dhokra Crafts by the Blacksmiths of West Bengal
Among all the exquisite Dhokra crafts of the blacksmith community Lakshmi baskets, three-legged flower vase, elephant, metal lamp, elephant bearing a lamp, elephant bearing the idols of Lakshmi-Narayan, peacock, Lakshmi, Kartik, Ganesh, Jagannath, Hanuman carrying Gandhamadan, Ravana, Durga with her family, Jagaddhatri, Shiva, owl, hen, ankle-bell, bangle, vermilion box, kohl compact and various vessels for measuring rice etc are the most common ones produced by them.
Lakshmi Baskets were used to put the idol of goddess Lakshmi to worship her on the last day of the Bengali month of Poush. The basket contained the idol of goddess Lakshmi, which was mounted on a brass elephant along with some other idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Dhokra artisans of Purulia District mainly produce rice bowls of different shapes and vessels carrying decorations of leaves and creepers, fish and geometric designs, ankle-bells, vermilion boxes etc. Similarly artisans of Medinipur district produce horses, elephants and ornaments for goddess Lakshmi.
Religious Status of Dhokra Community
The religious status of these blacksmiths of Dhokra community is still very uncertain. According to the religious rites and ceremonies they are neither Hindus nor Muslims; they are mainly from the painters’ community. Dhokra artisans of Purulia, North Bankura and Medinipur claim themselves to be belonging to the Muslim community; whereas Dhokras of South Bankura and Bardhaman named themselves as Hindus.
Dhokra Crafts of Rural Blacksmiths
Apart from the artisans of the Dhokra community, the rural blacksmiths are also known to be producing household items of solid brass. Some of the most delicate works of them include betel-boxes, kohl compacts, nutcrackers with decorative designs, vessels to hold the hookah, lime containers etc.