Miniature Metal Craft

Miniature metallic animals and insects, made by Rajasthan's Gadiya Lohar community

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Dastkari Haat Samiti

Metal Craft: Artisan family with their cart (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The Gadiya Lohars believe that their ancestors were the blacksmiths who made weapons for the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan in the 16th Century. When their ruler, Maharana Pratap, was being persecuted by the Mughals, the Gadiya Lohars were forced to flee, and swore to settle from their nomadic life only when their ruler was reinstated. However, even though Pratap was never defeated by the Mughals, he could not re-establish his rule. The Gadiya Lohar continued their nomadic existence, using their carts as mobile homes in their moves across north India.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In independent India, the government encouraged them to settle. However, even now, the community is visible in both rural and urban areas leading a semi-settled life. With advances in technology and availability of many competing materials, their traditional occupation is often not sustainable and many craftsmen have taken to alternative work.

Metal Craft: New markets (2014)Dastkari Haat Samiti

In Pachewar village, the Gadiya Lohar families lead a settled life, although still keeping their distinctive carts.

Their production caters to seasonal demands: agricultural tools and implements during the agricultural season, and cookware and other tools in the rest of the year.

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal insects (Contemporary) by HanumanDastkari Haat Samiti

New directions

The Gadhiya blacksmiths recently began experimenting with designs and created small insects, like these. 

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal insect (Contemporary) by Hazari LalDastkari Haat Samiti

These intriguing and lovable metal insects have opened a new market for the artisans.

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal insect (Contemporary) by Hazari LalDastkari Haat Samiti

A variety of handcrafted metal insects and...

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal animal (Contemporary) by HanumanDastkari Haat Samiti

... handcrafted metal animals have been developed.

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal camel (Contemporary) by HanumanDastkari Haat Samiti

A handcrafted metal camel - an echo of the desert region the community inhabits.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Miniatures in metal

 

Metal Craft: Metal artisan at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

All of these small products start with a small nondescript fragment of metal.

Metal Craft: Metal artisan at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

The metal piece is beaten and filed into shape.

Metal Craft: Metal artisan at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Insects are fashioned out of this tiny scrap of metal.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Attachments are made from scraps of wire, and are fixed into small notches.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Metal Craft: Metal artisan at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Ornamental details are added to the piece to give them more of a realistic look.

Metal Craft: Metal artisan at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Fine detailing is done with simple tools.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Craftsman Hanuman shows the tools of his trade. He is sitting in the small open platform in front of his house, which is visible behind him.

On his left is the contraption of bicycle wheel attached to a fan, which blows air to keep his small furnace going.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Foreground: A blacksmith hammers a heated piece of iron to the desired shape

Left: an artisan works on a small object;

Right: an artisan keeps the flame going.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Hanuman’s wife works on a camel. Her work table is a small iron block - almost resembling a section of rail track.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

She shares her work table with her son, who is also engaged in making similar products.

Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work (2017-08)Dastkari Haat Samiti

Hanuman’s wife and son make small decorative products from scraps of metal and wires. Hanuman sits working just beyond them.

The entire scene is the front yard of the house, which functions as design studio and a production workshop.

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal insects (Contemporary) by HanumanDastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about metal artisans from Rajasthan here:
- Original Craft of Ironsmiths
- The Gadiya Lohar community

Innovations by Gadiya Lohars
Credits: Story

Text: Aloka Hiremath, Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Suleiman Merchant and Charu Verma
Artisans: Hanuman Lohar and Hazari Lal
Ground Facilitator: Charu Verma and Aloka Hiremath
Video: Suleiman Merchant
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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