Brass work


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In Rajasthan Jaipur is a leading cluster for art brass ware in the State. Brass, valued for its golden lustre, is sandcast and the various levels of production are handled by specialized craftsmen. The dhaliyas, metal caste, casts the pieces, while the sheet metal workers and engravers have their own workshops. The entire process of production along with ornamentation usually takes 4 to 6 weeks. Kalamkari, Urdu for engraving and pen work, is done with controlled strokes of the thapi, mallet on fine pointed chisels. The craftsman engraves from memory unless a new design is asked for. The engraving is shallow, called naqqashi or sada kalam, and deep engraving, called khudai or sia kalam. In khudai the designs are marori, intricate, and the chased depressions are filled in with coloured lac. The lac sticks are heated and applied to the metal. The design gleams in golden tracery against the translucent jewel-coloured lac. Naqqashi is sometimes done on a tinned surface.Traditional styles are mostly floral arabesques. Ornamentation however is limited to decorative and dowry items since domestic utensils are scoured with mud or ash after use. A traditional product that needs special mention is the paandaan, made by casting heavy-gauge sheet metal, either copper or brass.

Traditional kithen utensils (Containers, Spoons, Plates, etc) made by die-pressing and manually cold forging sheet brass, are part of every bride`s dowry. In this area where water must be fetched over long distances, pots used to collect and store water are an invaluable commodity. In Jaipur, circular brass ingots are sand cast by specialized craftsmen at a second workshop manually shear them into rounds and die-press the sheets into hemispheres. At a third workshop the hemispheres are manually worked with huge mallets over swages till the desired shape is achieved. The joints and the neck are gas welded and the mouth is beaded. The products are vigorously hand polished with mud and tamarind and sandpapered. Finally, the walls are manually beaten with polished hammerheads to reinforce the sheet metal. The perfectly aligned symmetry of the created shiny indentations is testament to the craftsmen`s long practice at hammering them freehand-rapidly and with a single precise blow each.