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The ancient craft of Dokra (Cire Perdue, or lost wax) metal casting was once widespread throughout India, but is now restricted to a small number of groups of traditional artisans in widely dispersed locations. But over the years, especially in the contemporary economic order of trade integration, liberalization, foreign direct investment and transfer of technology, the traditional form of Dokra industries of the state is facing uncertainty, as it needs to perform in a competitive market environment. So, it is high time to evaluate the status of the industry in terms of their spatial pattern, economic contribution and limitations of production and marketing and above all perception of the stakeholders of the sector to mitigate the limitations. One significant nucleus of me craft exists among related groups of families in Bikna Village (Bankura) and nearby Dariapur, in West Bengal, India.

The craft of lost-wax casting is an ancient one in India, and appears to have existed in an unbroken tradition from the earliest days of settled civilization in the sub-continent. The traditional themes of these cast metal sculptures include images of Hindu Or ‘tribal’ gods and goddesses, bowls, figures of people or deities riding elephants, musicians, horse and rider figures, elephants, cattle, and other figures of people, animals, and birds. Our specific focus here is on the production of the range of Dokra artefacts, commonly known as ‘Dokra’. One of the major remaining foci for the Dokra craft is some kilometers to the north of Dariapur in West Bengal. Sixty- five related families live in a close-knit clan community in Dariapur village.

Originally, these craftsmen were nomads who went from tribe to tribe making their ceremonial and religious figures, ornaments and kitchenware. They were restricted to the materials of their immediate physical surroundings and the process of dokra matched their nomadic biorhythm. It did not require any fixed place or structure, or any heavy, large tools. They used wax, resin and firewood from the forests, clay from the river bed and made the firing oven in a hole dug in the ground.. Dokra is a very labour intensive as it consumes minimum of 4-5 days to make a simple piece of work whereas the complicated designs could take up to 2-3 weeks’ time. These Dokra metal artifacts are usually made traditional but on demand the contemporary designs are also made. Characteristics of these Dokra metal objects comprise slender and elongated figurines, folk lamps, household articles like measuring bowls and lamps. The uniqueness of these artifacts is that the object is entirely handcrafted with the final product that has a different texture depending on the wax strips and these relics do not have any joints.

Presently, We Swatirtha Charitable Trust are the implementing agency responsible for the upliftment of 500 dokra craft artisans. The main motive of the project is to creating them up-skilled with new advance machine technologies and marketing strategies resulting better livelihood generation.