Metalware of Himachal

The metals mainly used in Himachal Pradesh are brass, copper, iron, tin and bell-metal while the State itself is a treasure house of metal idols enshrined in temples, villages and home altars. Ritual objects for temples and house altars include octagonal low settees, bells with decorative handles, incense burners, lamps and jars for storing ganga jal. Highly-skilled blacksmiths make use of techniques such as chasing, repouss?, engraving, casting, beating, hammering and soldering. Repouss?, known locally as tapai, involves raising designs in relief on a metal sheet. The lost wax process and both solid and hollow methods of casting were used to cast metal idols of gods in the classical as well as rural traditions. Traditionally an alloy of five metals i.e. gold, silver, copper, brass, and lead was used to cast bronze images but nowadays an alloy of brass, copper and lead is used. The silver filigree work showcased in Mandi displays remarkable skill and delicacy while the metalsmiths of Kinnaur make door handles in the form of a crocodile, tiger, or lion head using the repouss? technique.