Having extended from Orissa to Bengal, the art of Dhokra, or lost wax bell metal casting has largely been a product of Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. Made by the lost wax, or cire perdue process, it is practised by several tribal, and artisan groups like the Gharuas, Jharas, Malars, Malhores, Jadupatuas in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Our Craftsman explains the process. “The maker first creates the core in fine sand and clay. He then makes an armature with wax threads, and strips that illustrate the image, following which he encases it in a clay mould with vents, and inlets. Next comes the molten brass is poured, and the casting. Then removes the cast, and does the finishing, and polishing with sandpaper in the end.”
The Gharuas are known to use wax for metal casting the idols, which are then installed in the Devagudi, a village shrine, of a deity under the trees. The ornamental parts of the object are separately added with wax and joined together with chaar, a hot iron rod. Sometimes, bamboo sticks are inserted to create channels for molten metal to enter the wax-filled cavity.