Metalware of Himachal Pradesh

Metalware of Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is a treasure house of metal idols enshrined in temples, villages, and home altars. Traditionally, good craftsmanship grew around temples and palaces. The metals mainly used in Himachal Pradesh are brass, copper, iron, tin, and bell-metal; the various techniques practised include chasing, repoussŤ, engraving, casting, beating, hammering, and soldering. RepoussŤ, known locally as tapai, involves raising designs in relief on a metal sheet. Highly-skilled blacksmiths can be found in Chamba town, Brahmour, and Chatrahi in Chamba district and in Kangra, Kulu, and Kinnaur districts. Metal idols of gods in the classical as well as rural traditions were cast by the lost wax process and both solid and hollow methods of casting were used. Traditionally an alloy of five metals ---gold, silver, copper, brass, and lead --- was used to cast bronze images, but in contemporary times an alloy of brass, copper, and lead is used. Ritual objects for temples and house altars include octagonal low settees, bells with decorative handles, incense burners, lamps, jars for storing ganga jal, flasks for storing wine, and umbrella-like canopies in silver and brass. The silver filigree work practised in Mandi shows remarkable skill and delicacy. The metalsmiths of Kinnaur make door handles in the form of a crocodile, tiger, or lion head using the repoussŤ technique.

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