There were traveling categories of metal craftsmen sporadically scattered throughout the mineral-rich, tribal belts of central India, such as, for instance, in the tribal districts of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Vindhya hills region, Orissa and Bengal. These nomadic metal craftsmen, belonging to socially inferior castes are known as Dokra or Dhokra.
The beautifully decorated ornamental figurines in a variety of shapes and designs in metal and brassware why these dokras produce/produced are known as Dokra artifacts or Dokra craft.
Nowadays, these traveling craftsmen have left their nomadic habit behind and have chosen to settle down specifically tribal belts of Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia, Burdwan, and Midnapore districts of West Bengal. At one point in time, these traveling craftsmen had chosen to settle down in Rampur on the outskirts of the district headquarters in one of the districts of Bengal; later, they shifted to a brand new town called Bikini.
Being a metalsmith or a kamar/Karmakar in Bengal means belonging to the cheapest social rank or hierarchy. These metal smiths or Dokra karmas happened and still happen to be at the receiving end of people’s ridicule, mockery, detestation, and disgust for their inferior social caste/rank. And so they are always forced to reside on the fringes of society for their low caste and chosen profession. They’re well and genuinely social outcasts.
However, the doors of Bengal, who have settled down in a single place, leaving their nomadic nature behind, have mostly left their trade of manufacturing Dokra items behind as well. Currently, the once-thriving industry of Dokra craft is surviving only because of the support of several families who have still retained this trade as their sole source of livelihood, even in the face of abject poverty and social ostracism.
It’s disheartening to notice that there are currently only 35 families of Dokra craftsmen still engaged in this high skill profession, and the numbers are dwindling fast https://nomadific.com/. The government of India needs to occupy the cause of the Dokra craft and Dokra artisans on a war footing to save lots of this dying art form, which includes invaluably contributed to the enrichment and promotion of folk culture.
But huge demand in western culture has ensured that Dokra craft doesn’t die a silent death. Instead it has received a big fillip and has undergone resurrection.
If you should be interested in discovering more on fascinating Indian Arts and Handicrafts,