Iron Craft in India
Iron craft in India has been an age old profession and is spread across the world. It requires lot of effort since you need to give shape to various types of metals. In the end it gives much satisfaction to see beautiful iron decorative pieces or useful items rise out of, what we would probably call scrap.
In the modern times there have been many classifications in the field of iron craft in India. These are architectural ironwork, traditional ironwork and iron sculpture and artwork.
Traditional ironwork in India relates to the making of horseshoeing and iron art ware by blacksmiths mostly using primitive tools and production methods. Architectural ironwork is very popular in the market, for the custom housing industry which requires hand-forged iron work or fabricated pieces containing hand-forged elements. Iron craft pertains to the making of big furniture items. With the basic shaping of iron, one can make useful household articles and beautiful show pieces.
The ironsmiths of several rural villages of India are engaged in iron craft for generations together and they indulge in making of farm implements, lamps and other household objects. Most of the iron objects are made by hammering them into shape. They are not cast or molded. The hot iron is beaten by them repeatedly to get the desired shape. There are several products made from iron like lamp, chain, barbed chain, musical instrument, wrist ornament, knife, axe, figurines of deities and the weapons carried by them - the trishul or double sword –are made by the same craftsmen.
In remote villages of Madhya Pradesh the traditional blacksmiths have mastered their art. Iron ore which is extracted from local mines are molded into desired shapes. People belonging to Gond, Muria and other communities have been practicing this art form. There is a tradition of giving beautifully carved iron lamps to daughters as a part of their bridal gifts. Today, iron craft of this state has got worldwide recognition and popularity because of the inventive designs. They are shaped into boxes and ornamental statuettes. They are also considered auspicious since they are based on the indigenous religious aspects of the tribal people. The Gadhavs, Gonds etc. are some of the tribal communities that practice this art.
In the state of Chhattisgarh the ethnic people use recycled scrap iron or the rich iron ore mines of Cherangdungri which acts as the supply source. The method of production is very simple. Metal is made pliable by beating it in furnaces and giving it shape by using hammer and tongs. Tongs of various sizes are used to form the palms, fingers and feet of the figurines. The eyes, nose, tattoo are later chiseled and hammered out. The clothes and the decorative elements are made separately and then attached to it. A coat of varnish is also applied in order to add on to its luster. Toy animals like lions, monkeys, and deer; an assortment of figurines and deities; and ritualistic objects like Diya are some of the examples of the products made. Musical instruments too are made following the above mentioned method.
The blacksmiths of Rajasthan are called Lohars. Artists at places like Jaisalmer and Tillonia mostly make animal figures, stands and decorative kitchen ware product by twisting iron wires.
There are diverse techniques when it comes to making iron crafts. The key lies in your imagination and the creativity to transform ideas into pieces of pure elegance and beauty.