Art Metalware of Rajasthan

Rajasthan is famous for its quality silver work. The silversmiths make products such as spice boxes, rose-water sprinklers, caskets, hukkas and highly-carved silver furniture.

Intricate metal etching is found in temple platforms called chauki where the deity is placed. Kalsha, an ornamented decoration is kept in the corners of the chauki or on the palanquin. The other items which are beautifully and skillfully carved are crowns, canopies, umbrellas, and seats.

Designing by light impression or chasing is a technique widely practiced in Rajasthan where a blunt chisel is used to trace imprints of the design onto the metal surface. This artform is a variation of bidri as it is done on plain or gilded brass and copper vessels. The floral pattern is engraved by chasing or punching away the background around the relief work which is then filled with black lac fusing the chasing to the surface. The floral designs glitter against a black background and the work is called marori. A black pattern on copper or brass background produces an artwork known as chrakwan. In Jaipur, both forms are practised and the lac used is in a variety of colours while Jodhpur and Udaipur are the other centres.

Jodhpur is the main centre for handcrafted iron and is famous for it?s aluminium shields and trophies. Koftagiri, a technique where light-coloured metal is inlaid on a darker surface is found mainly in Jaipur, Ajmer, and Pushkar and is practised by very few artisans. It was used originally for weapons and arms. The metal surface gets a blue-black gloss after the application of a mixture of lime juice and sand mixture.

Jaipur is the hub for chased, engraved, enamelled, lacquered and encrusted metalware. A wide range of items, including vases, perforated lamps, table tops, fruit bowls, planters, jewellery boxes and picture frames can be found. Ink wells, pen cases, styluses, compasses and holders are the other outstanding brass, iron, or silver items found in Rajasthan.

Icons of gods like Ganesha and Hanuman are also made. A number of household items of daily use and recreation are also made in brass and include incense burners with perforated leaves, and handles in the shape of snakes, parrots, peacocks, or lotus stalks. Swings are a popular item of household furniture in Rajasthan --- the chains are made of brass. Containers for betel leaf and areca nut, lime containers, hookah bases and chillums, metal combs with simple and elegant designs all popular items of consumption, are also made.