Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Dhokra Art of West Bengal


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dhokra Art

Mains level: Not Much


This newscard is an excerpt from the articles published in TH.

Do you know?

The dancing girl from Mohenjo-Daro (c. 2300 – 1750 BCE) is not just the most famous piece of art from the Harappan Civilisation, it is also one of the finest examples of metal art from that period.


But did you know that this world-famous figurine is also the oldest example of a unique metal casting tradition called Dhokra that survives to this day in parts of India?

Dhokra Art

  • Named after a nomadic tribe called ‘Dhokra Damar’, the art of Dhokra was originally found in the region from Bankura to Dariapur in Bengal, and across the metal-rich regions of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Today, it is practiced in the tribal belt across present-day Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
  • The Dhokra artistes first make a clay model out of wax, which is then replaced with molten metal, either brass or bronze, through a lost-wax metal cast.

What is Dhokra?

  • Dhokra is a metal casted art that uses the ancient lost-wax casting technique.
  • This art is said to be the first of its kind to use a non-ferrous metal like copper and its alloys – brass (a mix of zinc and copper) or bronze (tin and copper) which do not contain iron.
  • It uses the process of annealing, where a metal is heated to very high temperatures and allowed to cool slowly.
  • The casting is done using two kinds of processes – the traditional, hollow-casting method and solid casting. Solid casting is predominant in Telangana, whereas hollow casting is used in Central and Eastern India.

Symbolism of Dhokra

  • With its roots in ancient civilisations, Dhokra represents a primitive lifestyle and the beliefs of people, going back to the age of hunting.
  • This is why figures of elephants, owls, horses and tortoises are commonly seen in Dhokra art.
  • The elephant symbolises wisdom and masculinity; the horse motion; owl prosperity and death; and the tortoise femininity.
  • In Hindu mythology, these iconic symbols also have stories behind them.
  • The world is imagined to rest on four elephants, standing on the shell of a tortoise.
  • The tortoise, considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu, carries the world on his back, holding up the earth and the sea.


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