Govt apathy pushes Chamba’s metal craft towards oblivion : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

Govt apathy pushes Chamba’s metal craft towards oblivion

Govt apathy pushes Chamba’s metal craft towards oblivion

Metal artefacts sculpted by local craftsmen on display at a market in Chamba.



Naresh Thakur

Chamba, July 8

Nestled in the Pir-Panjal Himalayas, Chamba, isn’t just home to stunning landscapes, sprawling meadows and mighty rivers, it is a treasure trove of culture and intricate art and craft.

One such rich tradition of metal handicraft in Chamba is on the verge of extinction because of the government’s indifference, which continues to undermine the artisans’ efforts to preserve their heritage.

The local artisans find themselves at a crossroads as factory-made metal artefacts dominate the market and adding insult to injury is the younger generation which is turning its back on the art in search of more lucrative avenues . Poor patronage and marketing are to blame for this lack of interest.

  • Chamba metal craft involves the meticulous crafting of brass into religious icons, household items and decorative pieces. This tradition originated in the 10th century under the reign of King Sahil Verman of Chamba. It carries the influence of Kashmiri craft. It carries the influence of Kashmiri craft.

Ankit Verma, who carries on his family’s legacy of metal crafting, expressed his frustration over the lack of support from local authorities. He said, “During the many fairs and festivals of Chamba, the local administration invites us to discuss plans for sculpting idols and other artefacts which are gifted to dignitaries. However, the contracts often end up with flunky tradesmen who outsource factory-made metal artefacts from outside the state under our names.” He added, “This is not a one-time occurrence. No matter who is in power, this story is repeated every year. This practice not only deprives local artisans of the much-needed work opportunities but also erodes the authenticity of our cultural heritage.”

Our name, not our work, being used

During the many fairs and festivals of Chamba, the local administration invites us to discuss plans for sculpting idols and other artefacts which are gifted to dignitaries. However, the contracts often end up with flunky tradesmen who outsource factory-made metal artefacts from outside the state under our names. —Ankit Verma, Artisan

“On top of that, traders claim the artefacts have been sculpted by them, thus not only misleading the guests but also taking away credit of genuine artists,” Verma rued.

Tilak Raj Shandilya, a seasoned artisan with five decades of experience in metal crafting, said, “Earlier this year the administrative officials sought my services to sculpt an idol of Lord Rama to be installed at the Governor’s house in Shimla. They shared the specifications of the idol. I sought at least three months’ to sculpt the idol and the meeting ended on a positive note.”

“Recently, I was made aware that a trader had already supplied the idol and he was even honoured by the governor for ‘sculpting the idol’,” he said. The trader, of course, had political backing, which ultimately got him the contract and he claimed to have created the artwork. Shandilya said if such incidents continue, the Chamba metal craft would soon be lost into oblivion.

Chamba metal craft, a hallmark of Himachal Pradesh’s rich cultural heritage, involves the meticulous crafting of brass into religious icons, household items and decorative pieces. This tradition originated in the 10th century under the reign of King Sahil Verman of Chamba.

The Chamba metal craft carries the influence of Kashmiri craft as it was introduced by Kashmiri artists who were patronised by the King and settled here.

Making these artefacts involves two techniques: The lost-wax method (cire perdue) and sand casting.

Cire perdue involves making a wax model (a sculpture), coating it with refractory (clay) to form a mould, heating the wax until it melts and runs out of small holes left in the mould and then pouring metal into the space left. Each artefact made using the lost-wax technique is unique and a ‘masterpiece’. Sand casting is used for mass production.

#Chamba


Top News

Accused under UAPA can be granted bail if trial moves at snail’s pace: Supreme Court

Accused under UAPA can be granted bail if trial moves at snail’s pace: Supreme Court

Says continued imprisonment can’t be justified; orders relea...

Chaos at airports as Microsoft outage grounds over 280 flights

Chaos at airports as Microsoft outage grounds over 280 flights

Glitch impacts airlines, banks, hospitals globally


Cities

View All