Art & Culture Culture of India

Dhokra Art of West Bengal

  • The art of Dhokra, named after a nomadic tribe called ‘Dhokra Damar,’ was originally found in the region from Bankura to Dariapur in Bengal, as well as across the metal-rich regions of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is still practised today in the tribal belt of modern-day Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana.
  • The Dhokra artists begin by creating a wax model, which is then replaced with molten metal, either brass or bronze, via a lost-wax metal cast.


  • Dhokra is a metal cast art form that employs the age-old lost-wax casting technique.
  • This art is said to be the first of its kind to use non-ferrous metals such as copper and its alloys such as brass (a mix of zinc and copper) or bronze (tin and copper) that do not contain iron.
  • It employs the annealing process, in which a metal is heated to extremely high temperatures and then allowed to cool slowly.
  • The casting is done in two ways: the traditional hollow-casting method and solid casting. Telangana uses solid casting, whereas Central and Eastern India uses hollow casting.

Symbolism of Dhokra

  • Dhokra, which has its origins in ancient civilisations, represents a primitive lifestyle and people’s beliefs dating back to the age of hunting.
  • This is why elephants, owls, horses, and tortoises are frequently depicted in Dhokra art.
  • The elephant represents wisdom and masculinity; the horse represents motion; the owl represents prosperity and death; and the tortoise represents femininity.
  • These iconic symbols have stories in Hindu mythology as well.
  • The world is thought to be supported by four elephants standing on the shell of a tortoise.
  • The tortoise, regarded as Lord Vishnu’s avatar, carries the world on his back, supporting the earth and the sea.
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