Dhokra tribal jewelry is one of the most important art forms in India. For centuries, Dhokra tribal jewelry has enjoyed widespread popularity among women in India due to their rustic appeal. The Dhokra metal jewelry pieces are created by experienced craftsmen and artisans who work truly hard to carve some of the most beautiful jewelry pieces like trinkets, necklets, bracelets, anklets etc.
The Dhokra tribal jewelry has its roots in Dhokra craft which is a form of tribal craft combining metallurgical skills along with wax techniques for creating items of distinctive beauty. These tribal jewelry pieces are known for their primitive simplicity, enchanting folk motifs, rustic beauty along with imaginative patterns and designs. This technique of creating unique pieces of had been in practice since the days of Mohenjo Daro when craftsmen used to cast bronze figurines of dancing girls more than 4500 years ago.
Currently, the craft of Dokhra metal casting is practiced in various districts of Dhenkanal, Puri, Nayagarh, Khurda, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Ganjam, Mayurbhanj and Phulbani in Orissa. These jewelry items are also created in various tribal dominated parts of Andhra Pradesh, certain regions of Bengal, Raigarh and the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. These areas are known to have vast tracts of minerals that can be used by the tribesmen and artisans for creating Dokhra jewelry items. The unique appearance of Dokhra jewelry pieces and craft items is due to their rustic look along with stark and antique finish. Such factors have led to their widespread demand in both domestic as well as international art markets.
The term Dhokra or Dokra refers to a non–ferrous metal casting that is used for the ‘lost wax casting’ procedure. The metal casting practice is popular in India spanning for thousands of years. The name of ‘Dhokra’ comes from Dhokra Damar tribes; time-honored metal smiths living in the state of West Bengal. The lost wax casting technique is named after them. This form of metal casting is a major tribal heritage of India. Other than making jewelry items, Dhokra art and craft is also used for creating artefacts, utensils, accessories and jewelry. The rustic art and jewelry is known for their clean, distinctive, lines and enchanting folk motifs.
The craftsmen involved in making of the Dhokra jewelry items rely mostly on materials like wax, firewood and resin from forest, the riverbed clay as well as a firing oven that is made by creating a hole within the ground. The art and craft of Dhokra jewelry making is traditionally passed down from generation to generation. It is the contemporary and creative expression of ancient technique. While at one point of time these jewelries and crafts were made by using motifs of legendary figures, gods and goddesses, rustic designs and floral shapes, the craftsmen of today make use of innovative new techniques to create stylish and uniquely international ‘avatar’ of their own. This makes them perfectly in line ethnic as well as international styles.
Women who choose to wear this form of jewelry can easily combine them with silk or cotton sarees to create a unique look. Many women choose to sport heavy makeup while using these jewelry items. However, they can also be used along with light makeup techniques as well. The sarees that go best with these rustic looking jewelry items are of course the ones with dark colors. Sarees with darker drapes or those that combine light and dark shades are also a popular choice. Both small and large sized jewelry pieces are common, and they can be worn in a number of different styles. This helps to create different types of looks with Dhokra jewelry.