iron beams of Konark Sun temple in Orissa and the iron pillar at Qutab
Minar in Delhi are evidence of the numerous skills achieved by Indians
in the field of metalware. The art of bronze casting has been
practiced in India for more than five million years. Copper and bronze
were perhaps the earliest non-ferrous metals which man shaped into
tools. Metal is part of the Indian mystique as each metal has its own
alchemic and healing powers.
Availability of different metals and its vulnerable nature has made it
the base for a variety of decorative techniques such as inlay, metal
casting, carving, applique, etc. The scope of art metal is immense.
The work done in Moradabad, Jaipur and Delhi are representative of
Metal craft has also been an integral part of Indian culture. The 'lotas'
or water pitchers are found in almost all parts of the country. The 'urli',
bell-metal vessel in Kerala is a basic element of its culture. The
metal based lamps in various shapes and designs are part of the Indian
traditions and rituals. In Ladhak, decorative kitchen stoves are made
purely by hand. In South India, metal icons, especially of bronze, are
believed to absorb the charged energy of the Divine and are stored in
the inner sanctum of a temple where the icon is installed.
Moradabad, in Uttar Pradesh, has almost become synonymous with
metalwork. It is specially noted for its coloured enamelling and
intricate engravings in niello. Delhi too is an important centre for
art metalwork. The 'paildar' or the pie-crust designs, laboriously
made, is a speciality of the place. 'Koftgari', technically known as
damascening, offers a wide range of products, both for utility and
ornamental purpose. Metal-wire inlay work has panels and pictures
depicting attractive scenes. This work is found mostly in Uttar
Pradesh and Kerala. Kashmir is famous for metal engraving. It is done
on walking sticks, nutcrackers, cutlery, knives etc. Rajasthan does an
outstanding work in silver. Spice boxes, caskets and cigarette cases
are made of silver with intricate designs.
In fact metal craft has an amazingly wide range of products with a
variety of possibilities like E.P.N.S., metal casting, metal carving,
inlay work, enamelling etc. Also, it is a craft widely popular in
India, thus proving to be a treasured artwork.