A Lasting Impression

Surrounded by lakes, mountains and a border away from Odisha resides Purnachandra Pradhan who is sipping his ginger masala tea basking in the sun while molding husk and soil into a beautiful figurine. A man who believes that if the process is done right, the outcome will be brilliant. 

 

Fascination and challenge of the Dhokra art are what led Pradhan Ji to take it up and learn more about Dhokra 26 years ago. And since then he hasn't looked back. Everything he needs to make the masterpieces were right around him, from the earth beneath and the sky above.

As he mixed the husk and soil, he exclaimed,

"Dhokra ek anokha tarah ka art hain aur iske liye dheeraj bahut zaroori hain."

Some pieces take hardly a day and some take almost a week, but what comes out of the hot furnace, cools down and shapes up to be alluring pieces.

 

Pradhan had a keen eye for the art that kept almost the entire village busy. Leaving farming behind, he started observing and learning Dhokra art slowly.

Eventually, he mastered the art of making metal take shape to whatever he pictures it to be. According to Pradhan, every Dhokra art created is unique and cannot be replicated, whether it may be in the form of figurines or jewelry, showpieces, etc. Art is an expression and it is not meant to be perfect. With Dhokra, there is never any perfection achieved in the final outcome, but that is the beauty of it.

 

While the mould dries up in the glorious sun, stories are told of how anything around Pradhan can inspire him to create something marvelous. With easily available husk, bee wax, termite soil, and brass, all you need is time, patience and an imagination to make a Dhokra piece. This mould has hollow ducts which melts away when the hot metal is poured into the mold. Pradhan usually uses brass scraps as raw material for bringing the glorious liquid metal alive. This liquid metal is used to fill the mould, which when cools off takes the shape of the wax mould. 

With the help of workshops and classes all over the country, Pradhan strives every day to keep this ancient form of art alive and let the world know the wonders these palms of ours can design. As he laughs at his grandson's innocent attempt to detail a piece with the bee wax strands, Pradhan proudly shares the fact that how he was good at creating Dhokra since the moment he started learning. This art of metal casting has been used in India since decades now, over different states in the eastern and central India.

The tribes have carried this art form, village to village. At Ektal, the chunk of villagers residing earn their livelihood by making jewellery, lamp caskets and show pieces of animals and birds, selling them to tourists and at local government outlets.

 

Today anyone can do anything. Pradhan chooses to chase the challenge of making extraordinary pieces, not just for the world to have them. But to store them in his rusty trunk of treasure. 

 

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