Dhokra (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.
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.
The process of dhokra craft is long but the product is sure worth the wait. The lost wax casting technique used can be summarized as follows:
The first task in the 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 bee’s wax, 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.
Here is a detailed video of the process. It is in hindi, but the process is the same as explained above.
Some finished products:
Lord Ganesh on a carriage pulled by his ‘vahan’ mouse:
A dhokra frame: