The art of metal work is known to Indians for almost 5000 years from now. The beautiful image of the dancing girl from Mohanjodaro bears testimony o this fact. This indicates the high level of workmanship attained by ancient craftsmen. Traditionally, Indian craftsmen have been using different metals like iron, copper, silver and alloys like bronze, bell metal, white metal etc to produce items such as pots, pans, utensils, photo frames, sculptures of deities, mythological figures and animals.
The iron pillar at Mehrauli (Delhi), belonging to the Mauryan is a fine
example of Indian craftsmen's excellence. During the Chola period also
the art of metalworking reached great heights. The Chola craftsmen were
past masters at making bronze sculptures. Sculptures are usually made
with the lost wax technique. In this process a wax model of the
sculpture or any item is created. This model is then covered with clay
and holes are made into the clay. Finally molten metal is poured through
the hole at the top, causing the wax to melt. The cavity created within
is automatically replaced by the hot metal. The metal is allowed to cool
and the final product is freed from clay and polished.
In the field of metal work a variety of styles are seen in different
parts of India. In the Ladakh area of Kashmir traditional vessels are
made out of iron and brass. Many richly engraved traditional household
items like bowls, samovars, plates and trays are also made in Kashmir.
In "Naqasi", elaborate floral and calligraphic designs are
imprinted on copper and silver items. These items are then oxidized,
which makes the design to stand out from the background.
Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh is renowned for its brass items. A wide
range of household items like pots, trays, bowls and ornamental pieces
are made here and are decorated with intricate etching. Benaras is well
known for cast sculptures of deities and household utensils.
Rajasthan too is known for its rich tradition of metal work. Here,
Jaipur is the main center for brass engraving and lacquering. The main
items that are produced here are photo frames, bowls, plates, boxes etc.
Jaipur is also known for its bronze sculptures. At Alwar the art of
Koftagari or damascening work is practiced. In many other states also
the art of metal work flourishes. They are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra
Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
India is well known for her metal crafts and metal works. The tradition of metal crafts in India is very old.