There were groups of nomadic craftsmen or artisans dealing with metallurgical art using the lost wax technique, so popular in France, who were sporadically scattered in the tribal dominated mineral rich districts of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and west Bengal. These artisans were regarded as social outcasts and they used to live on the fringes of society and hence the name Dokra.
Dokra metal craft and Dokra artisans
In fact, although Dokra craft or Dhokra art is so beautiful, stunning and exquisite and famed all over the world for their unique and unparalleled craftsmanship, the artists who give birth to these designs are socially despised and treated with a lot of contempt in Bengal. The Dokra craftsmen in Bengal, referred to as Dokra kamars belong to the most persecuted social caste in Bengal and because of their inferior caste, they are ridiculed as dokras.
Dokra craftsmen of Bengal
You will find these dokras settled in the western districts of Bengal, such as in Purulia, Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan and Midnapore. The major concentration of Dokra craftsmen is in Purulia and Bankura.
There was this small suburban town known as share here Rampur situated on the fringes of the district headquarters of Bankura where the Dokra/Dhokra artisans used to live together. But now they have shifted out of this town and to another town called Bikna.
You will find these Dokra artisans creating myriad different kinds of figures, figurines and images of animals, birds, goddesses, gods, chariots, horse carts, Kartik, Ganesh, Parvati/Durga, Shiva, Narayan, Lakshmi, Saraswati, peacocks, owls, horses, elephants etc.
The Dokra artisans who live in Lakshmisagar create figures of birds and animals as well as images of ritual deities and they themselves visit the local fairs and markets to sell their products.
The Dokra artisans who live in Bindhyajan and Netkamla stay far away from making ritual objects, animal figurines and deities. They prefer to manufacture tinkling dancing bells or ghunghru, anklets or mols and paikona or measuring bowls belonging to a variety of sizes.
Common men call the Dokra craftsmen in Purulia malhars or mals and they too belong to inferior social ranks and are therefore objects of contempt. The semi nomadic malhars check more of Purulia are known for manufacturing ghunghrus, anklets, pancho pradeep, dhunuchi, paikona and other such metal products check here by using the process of lost wax. But they also desist from making figures and images of deities.