Iron Craft of Chhattisgarh

The ironsmiths or lohars of Kondagaon village in Bastar have been engaged in iron craft for generations together and indulge in making of farm implements, lamps and other household objects. The furnace comprises of three parts namely jatar or bhathi (bellows), chulha (mouth of the furnace) and pathar, a big stone slab embedded inside the floor, on which the red-hot iron bit is hammered. Muthli and muthla - light and heavy hammers, chimtas - large iron foreceps, sandasis - tongs, chheni - a chisel, and suma - a thick, cylindrical tool for making holes are the major tools used by these craftsmen.

The iron objects are made by hammering them into shape";" they are not cast or moulded. The hot iron is beaten repeatedly to the desired shape while the unnecessary portion is cut away and filed to remove the sharp edges. Hollow images --- usually bigger than solid ones --- are made out of beaten iron sheets, folded, cut, and filed to shape.

The deepak or large lamp(s) comprise of a number of small, shallow crucibles, like diyas (little lamps), and vertical and horizontal rods or strips. These are ornamented with bird and animal figures that are made separately and later joined together into various types of composite lamps. Depending on the variations in structure and use, there are five types of lamps: laman diya, supali diya, gadli diya, khut diya and viman diya. The laman diya is hung anywhere in the house and is used for day-to-day lighting. The supali diya that has central vertical rod has a pointed end with the upper portion of the lamp like the supa or winnowing fan is dug into the earth. The khut diya has a rectangular base and can be placed anywhere like a lamp-post. The gadli diya has wheels attached to it and can be moved like a gadi or vehicle. The viman diya is in the shape of a chariot and gets its name from the flying chariots or viman of the deities. Creatures like birds, snakes, deer, and monkeys, as well as human figurines, decorate these lamps.

The other products made from iron are the sankal or chain, badgi or staff, sikara, (barbed chain), kanta, chitkuli (musical instrument), gujari or wrist ornament, chhuri or knife, and kuchari or axe. Weapons carried by deities --- the trishul or trident, the bhala or lance, and the barchhi or double sword --- are also made by the craftsmen of this region.