In the stark and highly-defined line of metal, the sculptures from Karnataka create a look that distinguishes them from others. Traditionally, 'panchaloha' or the alloy of five metals --- copper, brass, white lead, gold, and silver --- was used for casting in bronze. Today, to minimise the cost of production, the alloy consists of only the first three metals.
Two variants of metal sculpture practised in Karnataka are the sheet-metal craft and the bell-metal craft. In the first, the artisan embosses designs on a sheet of brass or copper. In the second, different kinds of lamps are designed in bell-metal. Individual skill and dexterity plays an important role in the final expression of the object, irrespective of the method being used.
The important metal ware centres of Karnataka are Bangalore, Nagamandala, Sravan Belgola in Hassan district, and Udipi, Buntwal, and Karkal in Mangalore district. Karkal is an old Jain centre and the craftspersons here specialise in making rare Jain icons. Mangalore is an important bell-metal centre and the items made include milk containers called mili and bowls called gurdano. Udipi is famous for small images and ritualistic items.
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