Dokra is one of the earliest known methods of non-ferrous metal casting known to human civilization. The tribal art of dokra craft is an ancient process of producing metalware by the ‘lost wax casting’ (cire perdue) process.

A wax pattern with all its improved particulars of designs and decorations is made on a clay centre. A small amount of coats of delicately ready clay paste is applied over the wax replica and dried out in the shadow. It is then covered with a thick layer of clay keeping a hole on top. Molten metal is poured into the mould to replace wax layer. The cast is then taken out to give finishing touches and perfected with immense love, care and creativity. The dexterity of Dokra is exclusive in that no two Dokra products are alike.

The word Dokra is also used to specify a group of nomadic craftsmen scattered over Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Raigarh and Bastar districts of Chhattisgarh in central India and are identified by their marvelously fashioned and ornamented metal goods. Of all craftsmen in West Bengal, these metal smiths are generally most mistreated as social outcasts. Consequently they are called Dokras. Some of the regions in Bengal which are famed for Dokra metal craft are Burdwan, Midnapore, Birbhum, Purulia and Bankura. Dokra artisans of Bankura, where 36 families in all and now the largest cluster in West Bengal live in a small village called Bikna just outside Bankura town.

The main hallmark of Dokra craft is primitive simplicity, charming folk motifs, a rustic beauty and imaginative designs and patterns. Their aesthetic senses and skills have undergone a lot of evolution over the years. Untutored in recognized institutions, the talent and artistic wisdom of these people are the outcome of the instinctive and inborn creativity and intuitive innovative sense evolved over thousands of years.

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