Dhokra - The Art of Lost Wax
Posted on July 19 2016
We are MESMERIZED by Dhokra handicrafts at HouseThat. This ancient tribal art technique, originating from Chhattisgarh, India dates back over 4000 years to the Indus Valley civilization. The dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro is one of the earliest known lost wax artifacts.
Dhokra art is inspired by the folk cultures and primitive lifestyles of the ethnic tribal communities that the artisans belong to. It is an extremely time-consuming and elaborate process since the molds used to create the artifacts can be used only once. The skilled craftsmanship and patience with which each Dhokra sculpture is created make it very unique
The creation process starts by the artist making a mold with layers of clay and rice husk mix. The mold is hardened by drying in the sun.
The clay mold is coated with a sticky sap from the tree Damara Orientalis and then wrapped fully in beeswax.
The wax is shaped into a figurine and intricate embellishments and details are carved using thin and thick strands of wax. A wooden spatula or heated knife is used to flatten the strands so as to smoothen the background and highlights the decoration.
Once the detailing on wax is completed, multiple layers of clay, sawdust and rice husk are applied.
The mold is then baked at 1100 degrees celcius. The wax melts aways during this process thus leaving a fine cavity between the layers of clay.
Molten brass metal is poured into this cavity. It flows through the space and takes on the designs and patterns created in wax.
The mold is then cooled for two to three hours. The brass metal inside the mold hardens during this time. The outer clay layer is broken and the artifact is polished and buffed to make it ready for display.