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Mother grinding ants for her family

Dhokra (Odia: ଡୋକରା, Bengali: ডোকরা) (also spelt Dokra) is non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. One of the earliest known lost wax artefacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro.[1] The product of dhokra artisans are in great demand in domestic and foreign markets because of primitive simplicity, enchanting folk motifs and forceful form. Dhokra horses, elephants, peacocks, owls, religious images, measuring bowls, and lamp caskets etc., are highly appreciated.[2] The lost wax technique for casting of copper based alloys has also been found in China, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Central America, and other places.

The process[edit]

There are two main processes of lost wax casting: solid casting and hollow casting. While the former is predominant in the south of India the latter is more common in Central and Eastern India. Solid casting does not use a clay core but instead a solid piece of wax to create the mould; hollow casting is the more traditional method and uses the clay core.[1]

The first task in the lost wax hollow casting process consists of developing a clay core which is roughly the shape of the final cast image. Next, the clay core is covered by a layer of wax composed of pure beeswax, resin from the tree Damara orientalis, and nut oil. The wax is then shaped and carved in all its finer details of design and decorations. It is then covered with layers of clay, which takes the negative form of the wax on the inside, thus becoming a mould for the metal that will be poured inside it. Drain ducts are left for the wax, which melts away when the clay is cooked. The wax is then replaced by the molten metal, often using brass scrap as basic raw material. The liquid metal poured in hardens between the core and the inner surface of the mould. The metal fills the mould and takes the same shape as the wax. The outer layer of clay is then chipped off and the metal icon is polished and finished as desired.[1][3]

The name[edit]

Dhokra Damar tribes are the traditional metalsmiths of West Bengal and Odisha. Their technique of lost wax casting is named after their tribe, hence Dhokra metal casting. The tribe extends from Jharkhand to West Bengal and Orissa; members are distant cousins of the Chhattisgarh Dhokras. A few hundred years ago, the Dhokras of Central and Eastern India traveled south as far as Kerala and north as far as Rajasthan and hence are now found all over India. Dhokra, or Dokra, craft from around Santiniketan, West Bengal, is popular. Recently Adilabad Dokra from Telangana got Geographical Indicator tag in 2018.

Dhokra,The Art & Jewellery[edit]

When mixed in the right proportion, this art form gives an antique look and augments well with various contemporary styles. A little different from its distant cousins of the east, it embodies a more primitive simplicity.

Some [4] are crafted by Bhottada section of the famous Gond tribes of Orissa, well known for their costumes and embellishment styles. Originally, seeds of different wild fruits in the forest were used as beads with cotton thread in their necklace and earrings which over the years have been substituted by beads made from brass by the heating and beating process. By and large, Bhottada women of affluent families having a special status in their community used this jewellery. In recent times, it symbolises a more utilitarian approach in a traditional framework.


Mother with five children.
Dhokra displaying Hindu deities.
Couple involved in various activities.
Dhokra featuring man's bust.
Dhokra featuring woman's bust.


  1. ^ a b c Della Cava, Chiara. "Metal Working in India - Lost Wax Casting". Museum of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  2. ^ "Dokra". Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  3. ^ "Dhokra craft". india9.com. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
  4. ^ Dokra ornaments

External links[edit]

External video
Ancient Metal Casting Art of Dhokra at Dwariapur, West Bengal With Subtitles
External video
Lost Wax Process or Dhokra Art of Bastar