The town named Tikamgarh is situated around 85 km from Chanderi which is famous for its weaving culture. This bell-casting Tikamgarh had been practiced over three centuries ago. Here, decorative items are crafted for every need, desire, and demand.
Dhokra is created with thin strings of wax, but in the bell metal craft of Tikamgarh, metal pieces are usually sculpted and melds are created. A clay base is made and the wax mixture is coated and given the final shape for larger articles. Craftsmen have created indigenous tools for customized designs and fine cravings.
One gets to witness the finished art piece showcasing an artist’s fine craftsmanship. Craftsman makes toys, different figures of animals, God, and lamps which are sold in local as well international markets. The craft not only shows the creativity of artists and tells us the stories behind every masterpiece.
In the Harappa civilization, dancing the girl is known as the earliest example of metal wax casting. This art was developed in the Indus Valley civilization around 3500 BC. Two copper figures were found in Lothal, a site in Harappan. The bronze icon of Lord Nataraja and mother Goddess was discovered in Tamil Nadu. This method was created for creating temple idols, jewellery, and weapons. There is a custom where moulded metal Diya is given to their daughters for their weddings. This craft is followed in tribal and folk regions of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerela to create beautifully intricate objects of decoration and utility. This craft has been developed centuries ago. Weapons like cannons, swords, shields, and spears for the royal army were made by blacksmiths. They also made tools, carts, and cattle bells for the farmers. Objects were made on moulded and threads used for decoration.
The designs with fine patterns are made of wax. Intricate details for the smallest of objects are done on lost wax coating. The inspirations of patterns are derived from the elements of local architecture like jharokhas and Jaalis. The impressions and motifs created on strips of wax are simple, geometric, and repetitive.
Raw materials play quite a big role in tools. Wax is a very versatile material that is easily available and can be reused. The flexibility of this process explains in the creation of both small objects and large sculptures which are seen in several government buildings. The design of these metal casting portrays the lives of the people and their surroundings. There is a large antique appeal to the final product and does not fail to attract ancient artifacts.
There is awareness of handcrafted objects and their customized results are sparse. The cost of metal which is the primary raw material has increased but the demand for these heavy artifacts is decreasing. Crafts require a lot of time. It is labor-intensive work that invokes a large amount of heat. Initially, there was a good number of families which are involved in this craft. But now, there are only one or two families who are involved in this craft. Due to the heavy work involved and low returns, younger generations are stepping away from this work. This craft was once catered to kings but it caters to a worldwide audience with its superior craftsmanship in brass and copper nowadays. They have even made huge sculptures for government buildings and continue to do remarkable work in this field.