The lineage of Metal casting as a Craft in Odisha
Brass and Bell Metal
Brass and Bell Metal wares occupy a pride of place in Odia society which are used in daily life. The artisans are traditionally called "Kansari" who follow the traditional process of heating and beating and also lost wax process. The workshop is called 'sala' or shed and consists of a platform with a block of stone for the floor on which the beating is done, a heating furnace or bhati, a raised verandah with a local lathe for polishing. Tools used are hammers and anvils, pincers, hand drills, files and scrapers. The heating furnace with a crucible is fanned by a blower with leather bellows although of late the craftsmen have started using mechanical blowers.
The product range includes cooking ware, utensils like plates, bowls, glass tumblers, vassels, gong bells,small bells etc. Of late, some of the items are being painted to give a colourful look which are in demand for marriage ceremonies. One of the unique and typical item is the Flexible Brass Fish of Ganjam. Important places for this craft are Kantilo(Nayagarh), Bhuban(Dhenkal), Balakati(near Bhubaneswar), Bhatimunda(Cuttack), Belaguntha(Ganjam), Remuna(Balasore), Tarabha(Balangir) etc. Metal craft is perhaps the single most important craft in terms of the number of artisans engaged in its practice as in it has close links with the daily lives of the people of the State.
Silver Filigree Work(Tarakasi)
Cuttack is famous worldwide for the inimitable delicate craft of tarkashi or silver filigree work. Silver is beaten and drawn into fine wires and foils, which are then joined together to form articles-generally ornaments-of stirring beauty. The snow glazed filigree work or tarkashi of Cuttack was once sought after by royal households and merchants from far and wide. Today, the tarkashi workers continue to uphold the traditions of outstanding workmanship. Bhubaneswar and Puri are also centers of this craft.
The socio-cultural links of this handicraft are very strong. According to well entrenched traditions the bride is presented with a set of brass and bell metal articles for starting off her new home, the quantity and quality varying according to the economic status of the family. While in the villages these are extensively used for eating and cooking, in the urban areas other materials like stainless steel, aluminum and ceramics have dislodged them. Nevertheless the brides, even in urban areas continue to get their set of brass and bell metal items in marriage.
Dhokra Metal casting
Dhokra casting, a variety of metal casting is essentially a folk craft and is limited to a few pockets of Odisha, like Kuliana in Mayurbhanj district, Kaimati Keonjhar district, Sadeiberni in Dhenkanal district and Adakata in Nayagarh district being practiced by an aboriginal caste called sithulias. Dhokra is an alloy of brass, nickel and zinc which give an antique look. Its motifs are mostly drawn from folk culture which include animal figures like elephant, horse, gods an goddesses,containers with lids, lamp and lamp stands, in several intricate designs in shape of trees and branches with as many as a hundred lamps in one stand. Of late some utilitarian articles like candle stands, ash trays and pen stands are also being made keeping the essential folk design intact.