What is Dhokra Art?

by Annie Saxena on Mar 10, 2023

What is Dhokra Art?

Dhokra is a form of metal casting that makes use of the age-old lost-wax casting process. This art is considered to be the first of its kind to use a non-ferrous metal like copper and its alloys, which don't contain iron like brass (a combination of copper and zinc) or bronze (a mixture of copper and tin). It applies the annealing process, in which a metal is heated at extremely high temperatures and then allowed to cool gradually. The casting is done using two kinds of procedures - the classic, hollow-casting approach and solid casting. While hollow casting is employed in Central and Eastern India, solid casting is more common in Telangana.

The two primary lost wax casting techniques are solid casting and hollow casting. The latter is more widespread in Central and Eastern India whereas the former is more common in the south of India. Instead of using a clay core to form the mold, solid casting employs a solid piece of wax; hollow casting, which is the more conventional technique, uses a clay core.

What is Dhokra Art?

In India, specifically the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Odisha, a traditional metal casting technique known as "dhokra art" was developed. It is also referred to as "lost-wax casting" since the method entails creating a clay model of the intended object, covering it with wax, and then covering it once more in clay. After the wax is melted and removed from the clay, molten metal is poured into the hollow hole left by the wax. The clay is cracked away to expose the finished object when the metal has cooled and set.

The oil pastel painting's outcome can be dramatically impacted by the surface that is selected. Paper is a frequent surface, although this medium can be used on other surfaces including wood, metal, hardboard (commonly known as "Masonite"), MDF, canvas and glass. Many businesses produce papers made expressly for pastels that work well with oil pastels.

India has a lengthy tradition of dhokra art that dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is still widely practiced today and frequently used to make presents and souvenirs for travelers. To maintain the heritage, dhokra artists continue to experiment and create with the medium, coming up with fresh designs and using cutting-edge methods.

Who is the Famous Artist of Dhokra?

The ancient art form of Dhokra art is practiced by a large number of bright and competent artists. Individual artists, on the other hand, are hardly well-known outside of their respective localities.

West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Odisha are three Indian states that are home to some of the most well-known Dhokra art cultures. Additionally well-known for their elaborate metal sculptures are the Dhokra artists of Chhattisgarh's Bastar area.

While there may not be any particular artists who have become well-known for their Dhokra art, the trade as a whole is now acknowledged as an essential and distinctive kind of metal casting in India and elsewhere. Many Dhokra artists still produce exquisite and detailed sculptures, jewellery, and other ornamental items that highlight the beauty and talent of this age-old art style.

What is the Process of Making Dhokra Art?

The steps involved in creating Dhokra art, a traditional method of metal casting, are as follows:

Making the pattern: Making the pattern for the desired object is the first stage. The artist will usually do this on paper and draw a blueprint of the design that they will use as a reference.

After the design has been decided upon, the artist will make a clay model of the thing. Clay, sand, and water are combined to create this model, which is then sculpted by hand or with the aid of basic tools.

Waxing: The artist will cover the entire surface of the clay model in a coating of beeswax after the clay is finished. The wax layer will be utilised to make the metal casting mould.

Applying the outer clay layer: When the wax has been used, the artist will add another layer of clay to completely cover the clay model. The metal casting will have a mold thanks to this clay layer.

The artist will then heat the clay mold to a temperature that causes the beeswax layer to melt and drain away, leaving behind a hollow hole that is formed like the original clay model.

Melted metal is poured into the clay mold's hollow area after the wax has been removed by the artist. The metal used is commonly brass or bronze.

Taking the clay mold off: The artist will separate the clay mold off the finished piece after the metal has cooled and become firm. After that, to add color and texture to the metal object's surface, it will be polished, etched, or given a patina.

Depending on the complexity of the design and the size of the piece, the full process of manufacturing a Dhokra art object may take several weeks or even months. The finished piece of art, however, is a special and lovely representation of the Dhokra artist's talent and ingenuity.

Which Metal is Used for Dhokra Art?

Often, bronze and brass metals are combined to create Dhokra art. Depending on the precise recipe the Dhokra artist uses, the ratio of brass to bronze might vary, but generally speaking, the mixture contains roughly 70–80% copper and 20–30% zinc. This metal alloy is renowned for its malleability, toughness, and capacity to retain fine details, making it the perfect material for producing the elaborate and detailed sculptures that are distinctive of Dhokra art. The metal is frequently obtained from neighborhood artisans or bought from metal suppliers, then it is melted down and put into clay molds to produce the finished item.

How do You Clean Dhokra Art Items?

Do the following actions to clean Dhokra artefacts:

Dust the item: Wipe out any dirt or debris from the item's surface using a soft cloth or a feather duster.

Clean the item with light soap: If the object is very stained or dirty, you can clean it using a mild soap solution. Use a soft cloth and a little warm water and mild soap (like dish soap) to gently scrub the item's surface.

Water Rinse: To get rid of any soap residue left over from cleaning, rinse the object with fresh water. Avoid getting the item very wet to avoid damaging the metal, which can be done by too much moisture.

The object should be completely dried using a soft cloth, being care to get rid of any moisture that may still be present.

Applying a modest bit of oil or wax to the surface will protect the object and give it a great gloss. Choose an oil or wax that is suitable to use with metal and is non-toxic, non-reactive, and non-toxic.

Because Dhokra artefacts are delicate and easily destroyed, it is vital to handle them carefully. You should be careful not to drop or harm the object, and you should avoid exposing it to high or low humidity. Dhokra art objects can last for a very long time while maintaining their beauty and worth with the right upkeep.

What are the Different Types of Dhokra Art?

The traditional metal casting technique known as "dhokra art" has its roots in the Indian subcontinent. Here are a few examples of the various forms of Dhokra art:

Human body types: The representation of human figures, typically in stances that reflect daily activities like farming, cooking, and dancing, is one of the most popular forms of Dhokra art. The figurines are seen to be distinctive and vibrant since they are frequently crafted with complex detailing.

Animal figures: Using the metal casting technique, Dhokra artists can produce a variety of animal figures, including horses, elephants, cows, and birds. These figures frequently have conventional patterns and motifs on them.

Religious idols: Using the metal casting method, several Dhokra craftsmen fashion religious statues of Hindu deities like Ganesh, Shiva, and Durga. Because they are revered, these idols are frequently employed in religious rituals.

Decorative goods are not the only things that Dhokra art is used to create; it is also used to create functional products like lamps, vases, jewellery boxes, and trays. These things are often ornamented with conventional patterns and designs, and they make for interesting and useful furniture.

Tribal figurines: Dhokra art is frequently linked to the indigenous tribes of central India, and a lot of Dhokra artisans produce figurines of indigenous men and women wearing distinctive jewellery and clothing. These intricately sculpted figures represent the region's distinct cultural history.

Generally, Dhokra art has a wide variety of forms and styles, and each work is distinctive and meticulously crafted. Since it has been passed down through the years, the art form has played a significant role in preserving Indian cultural legacy.

What Make Dhokra Art Unique from Different Art forms?

Dhokra art distinguishes itself from other types of art for a number of reasons.

Ancient Method: The lost wax casting method, which has been used for more than 4,000 years, is utilized to create dhokra art. The labor-intensive process creates one-of-a-kind, complicated designs by requiring numerous processes of molding, wax casting, and metal casting.

Eco-friendly: Dhokra art is made from natural, non-toxic materials, making it sustainable for the environment. In order to reduce waste and promote a better environment, the artists use natural materials like clay and beeswax for molding and recycled metals like brass and bronze for metal casting.

Dhokra art is a reflection of the creativity and imagination of the creator. It is a kind of art that is both significant and individualized since the artists employ the method to produce distinctive motifs and patterns that reflect their culture and background.

Dhokra art has a rich cultural history in India, notably in the tribal populations of the country's Centre. It is a major component of India's creative tradition because it has been handed down through generations of artisans who have improved and perfected the technique over time.

Versatility: Dhokra art is adaptable and may be utilized to produce a variety of goods, from tiny figurines to substantial sculptures, utensils, and ornamental items. It is a very versatile and varied kind of art that can also be integrated with other arts like painting, needlework, and woodworking.

Overall, the particular fusion of cultural history, eco-friendliness, artistic expression, and versatility makes Dhokra art a special and priceless art form that keeps expanding.


Dhokra, which has origins in ancient civilizations, depicts a primal way of life and prehistoric beliefs that date to the time of hunting. For this reason, Dhokra art frequently features images of elephants, owls, horses, and tortoises. The tortoise represents femininity, the owl wealth and death, the horse motion, the owl prosperity, and the elephant masculinity. These recognizable images have stories associated with them in Indian mythology. Four elephants are said to be supporting the weight of the world while standing atop a tortoise shell. The tortoise, who is regarded as Lord Vishnu's avatar, bears the universe on his back while supporting the earth and the oceans.

This method has been used in India for 4,500 years. Several historians place the origin at the Indus Valley civilization's Mohenjodaro city. Moreover, references to it can be found in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and a number of South East Asian countries. The artist and the craftsman were one and the same in ancient India, where the creation of the designs was integrated.