Metal Craft

The Copper Age followed the New Stone Age in Bihar as elsewhere in the country. During this era several metals were discovered and thus commenced their usages. The important prerequisites in the development of any craft are their availability and usefulness, and then follow its religious significance. Metal craft story in Bihar is similar. The oldest human-madecraft unearthed in Bihar is an idol of a Mauryan dancer, which substantiates the view that the craftsmen of Bihar were well skilled in metallic art since beginning. Thus, the metal idol of Buddha, discovered from Sultanganj is the pride of Bihar. Also, the undivided Bihar was fortunate in this respect since it was iron, tin, almunium, and copper rich.

Mahayana gods & goddesses have been found. These rich crafted idols reveal the technical knowledge of metallurgical craftsmanship of the time. With the passage of time, the metallic skills of Nalanda's artisans came to be known as 'Nalanda Tradition', which expanded across the country. Discovered from Sultanganj, the Buddha statue of the fifth century, made of copper, is still conserved and kept in the museum of England. A total of 240 idols of Nalanda Tradition have been located from Kurkihar in Gaya district. The religious statue of bronze has been found from Chirand of Siwan district in north Bihar. The evidence of Nalanda Tradition can also be seen in the idols of Belwa of Patna district. The statue of "Belak", conserved in Patna Museum, displays the "Bpatam-Chmatakanam" patterns. There is a quadruped statue of Lord Shiva, sitting on lotus. The second statue is of a devotee before Lord Shiva sitting on "Nandi-Bail". The idols found from Chirand are of stone-age. Thu, the tradition of craft made of metal, animal-bones etc. in Bihar are of ancient age.

The main-stay of metal crafts in Bihar is the bronze-craft primarily. The making of metal crafts in Bihar involved the Last Wax Method primarily. In this method, the wax layer is coated on the soil-model of the structure. Again,the mixtures of soil and other materials are coated on these layers. On drying, the molten metal is put on these structures to form the desired idols. Gold, silver, bronze zinc, octal-metal and 'Panchaloha' are used in metal craft in Bihar. The octal-metal includes gold, silver, iron, tin, glass, mercury, copper and zinc. Panchaloha also includes gold, silver, copper, bronze and glass. Nalanda takes prominence place in Bihar in the use of 'Panchaloha' in metal craft.

The uniqueness of the ancient metal craft form in Bihar involves geometric norms for providing the stability and aesthetic beauty in the metal craft. The house-hold materials of regular use were the first objects in the process of developing a rich metal-craft tradition in Bihar; the statues of The rich tradition of metal-craft in Bihar starts from the prehistoric time, but one gets its concrete evidence in Nalanda of the second century–a centre of Buddhist learning–where it became the hotspot of sculptures made of bronze (a mixture of copper and tin). In the 18th and 20th century excavations, more than 500 idols of Buddha and the god and goddess were made later. Three types of method - Tribal Dhokra method, Last wax method and Sand Casting system- have been the prominent and widely-used method in metal craft in Bihar. During the reign of Ashoka, the five-mark (Panch-marka) method in the metal-craft was widely-used.

The changes in the craft formation came in Mughal period.The nails, coffers, strong boxes, shelves etc. began to be formed with metals. Dhavaram Bhirni and Miramanu from Patna got the recognition for iron made crafts and golden jewelry respectively. Even after the arrival of the British, the utility and artistry of metal crafts remained untouched in Bihar.Three ways of metal construction Practical, non-adornment and pottery making–continued steadfastly. Slowly, it took theform of a small entrepreneurship.

To be unique is the essence of an outstanding craft. The first in this series of unique craft comes from Sultanganj, 'the golden statue of a woman', whose beauty is transcendental. The second major idol is of the Buddha from Nalanda, which is the reflection of the religion of that era. The third major is the statues received from Kurkihar from Gaya.

The tradition of metal-craft is inherent in the lives of Bihar and it revolves around Buddha, Shiva, Vishnu, Tara etc. These statues are the emblem of thought and wisdom, and it enhances our aesthetic perception of the state. The role of Upendra Maharathi Research Institute in developing the craft and providing training to the artisans could be underlined majorly.

Presently, the metal idols are produced in Sareja (Mojpur), Dighwara (Saran), Munger and Patna City. Parev village in Patna district, located on the bank of Son River, is well-known for the utensils made of brass and bronze. The metal crafts tradition in Bihar is creating a new world of artistry, containing a unique combination of the best of ancient and modern.

The metal-craft tradition of Parev Village

About 40 km west of Patna and 20 km east of Arrah is located Parev Village, located on the banks of the Son river. The village is famous for its brassware. On the one side of the river is Koilavar of Bhojpur district, while Parev is on the other side of the river. Each house in the village is engaged in making the brassware. Every person in the village is a craftsman here. Although most craftsmen are of karmakar caste, people of other castes are also engaged in this work. The metal works have been ingrained in the lives of the natives of the village.

The daily used commodity of brass, such as bucket, plate, pot, pan, bowl, glass, saucer etc. are made in the village on large scale. Along with the metal works, some villagers are also engaged in the idolatry work. The tradition of making idols began in the village decades ago when the artists of the village got training from the artists of Madhya Pradesh. Therefore, some similar characteristics can be noticed in the idols of this region with the Bastar's sculpture tradition. Along with Lord Buddha, TirthankarMahavir, Radha Krishna, Ram Sita, Ganesh, the metal statues of horse, turtle, camel etc. are made on a large scale. The demands of the utensils and idols made in the village are constantly increasing in the market.

The rich tradition of metal-craft in Bihar starts from the prehistoric time, but one gets its concrete evidence in Nalanda of the second century – a centre of Buddhist learning - where it became the hotspot of sculptures made of bronze. In the 18th and 20th century excavations, more than 500 idols of Buddha and Mahayana gods & goddesses have been found. These rich crafted idols reveal the technical knowledge of metallurgical craftsmanship of the time. Discovered from Sultanganj, the Buddha statue of the fifth century, made of copper, is still conserved and kept in the museum of England.

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