Dhokra, which is non-ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique is one of the earliest known methods of metal casting. The craft dates back to pre- historic times of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilizations. Dhokra/Bell metal is an alloy of nickel, brass and zinc that lends an antique appeal to casting. One of the earliest known lost wax artifacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro.
The ‘Dhokra Damar’ are the traditional metal smiths of West Bengal and the tribe extends to Jharkhand and Orissa as well. Their technique of lost wax casting is named after their tribe, hence Dhokra metal casting. A few hundred years ago the Dhokras of Central and Eastern India traveled south as far as Kerala and north as far as Rajasthan and hence are now found all over India.
With time, the available raw material changed in its form. Earlier every small and larger part was cast separately and then worked further upon, now the metal is available in the form of wires of different diameters and sheets. Odiya names of the beads according to their sizes are Kanthi, sorisia and khuda sorisia. The process can be divided into three main parts; first they make basic shapes cut out from sheets or by metal casting. Then the two metal pieces are stuck together with the help of heat. All such individual pieces are strung together in cotton or silk braided strings to complete the piece.
Design Intervention workshos are conducted by Zola across rural Odisha with focus on bringing about new design ideas in Dokhra casting and metal beads stringing. We work with over 200 artisans, mostly women with brass, copper, white metal beads, Dokhra motifs, Langia Soura tribal art, Kutia and Koya combs of the Kutia Kondh and Koya tribe respectively to make our Dhokra collection of Jewelry. Zola’s Dhokra necklaces and earrings are a combination of Dhokra beads and motifs created using the lost wax technique.
“When you wear Zola, you wear a piece of history, culture and the innumerable stories of the artisans who create our jewelry. You wear a piece of earth.”