Dokra or Dhokra Metal Craft

Dokra Metal craft is quite popular in the tribal regions of Telangana. Dhokra or Dokra also known as bell metal craft is a tribal metal craft widely seen in Jainoor Mandal, Adilabad District of Telangana.

Dhokra is an ancient bell metal craft practiced by the Ojha metal-smiths of Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Telangana – the style and workmanship of the artisan community being different in different states.

In Telangana, the Ojha artisans are also known as Wojaris or Ojjis who create brass metal art objects using the tedious but perfect lost wax technique while casting the metal.

The Dokra artifacts are made in brass and are unique in that the pieces do not have any joints. The method is by combining metallurgical skills with wax techniques employing the lost wax technique, a unique form where mould is used only once and broken, making this art the only one-of-its-kind in the world. 

The 100 Ojha families, a sub tribe of the Raj Gond Adivasis found in Keslaguda, Ushegaon and Jamgaon of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district and Tamsi mandal of Adilabad district, manufacture brass metal items using the lost wax technique since centuries. The artisans traditionally manufacture only items like lamps and bells of different sizes used by the Raj Gonds and Kolam tribe in agriculture and religious activity. 

A minor resurgence of Adivasi culture witnessed in the old undivided Adilabad district has provided scope for the traditional Ojha artisans to indulge in creativity. Due to the phenomenon ensuring good sales during the Dandari-Ghusadi festival gone by and also holding out the promise of the trend to continue in the religious season ahead, the Dhokra brass metal artisans are making artifacts which they had discontinued to produce since about three decades.

The artisans make bronze and brass objects using the casting technique called dhokra,where a clay model is the core,over which,wax threads are wrapped around to form a layer.This is again covered with yet another layer of clay which has an opening. Molten bronze or brass is poured into this opening, which melts the wax completely, replacing it with brass or bronze. The cast object needs the outer mould to be broken each time.

In Adilabad district, places like Ushegaon and Chittalbori are the main contributors of this art. What catches your eye in this beautiful craft is that each piece is different from the other.

The craft produces objects like figurines, tribal gods, etc.

This work has good demand both in the domestic and international market due to its aesthetic look and primitive simplicity. The work consists of folk motifs, peacocks, elephants, horses, measuring bowl, lamp caskets and other simple art forms and traditional designs.

There are many families in Adilabad district dedicated to this ancestral craft, which is a labor-intensive work.

Very often, the artisans take up only order based work with an advance. The purchase of raw materials would require an initial expenditure beyond their means, more so if the end products do not sell. Dhokra is a very labour intensive as making of a simple piece could consume 4-5 days while more complicated designs could take upto 2-3 weeks. The designs are usually traditional, though they are known to make contemporary designs on demand. The characteristic pieces include slender and elongated metal figurines, folk motifs, elephants, peacocks, horses and household articles like measuring bowls and lamps The unique feature of a dhokra artefact is that the pieces do not have any joints. The entire object is handcrafted with the final product that has a distinct texture depending on the wax strips used in its design.

Things have recently started looking up for the Ojhas of Adilabad as they have tapped into their local markets comprising of the Gond tribal homes and their seasonal jatras or fairs. The idols of local deities – Jangubai, Bheemalpen and Persapen are most popular as are other items used in worship. The study of their return to local markets is unique in the lives of all artisan communities.

Typically dhokra objects cost between Rs.300 -500.

Bhujang Rao Ojha: +91 94-92-428293 [Keslaguda, Kerameri mandal]
Indrajeet Ojha: +91 9652950224 [Belsari Rampur village in Tamsi mandal]