Lost Wax Bronze Casting of Karnataka

Endangered/ Red List, Metal

Lost Wax Bronze Casting of Karnataka

Karnataka is known for its age old metal craft.  The temples have attractive display of this art and it speaks volumes of the creativity of the artists. In south of India there is a strong belief that bronze exudes energy of the divine and therefore idols are made in bronze. Bronze items can be preserved for a longer time when they are maintained and are not breakable.

In Udupi, a celebrated town of temples in Karnataka is renowned for its bronze and bell metal casting. The age-old process of cire perdue of lost wax is employed to create striking objects out of metal. Udupi is a rich source of tin and copper and thus a significant centre for artisans to produce varied utilitarian and religious objects that are rooted in regional identity.  Karkala which is one of the oldest centres of Jainism is famous for its metalware icons. Ritual objects used in worship such as lamp, bells, pot/kalasha, ginde etc. besides the south Indian bronzes such as deities, are cast in the Chola and Hoysala style. Another example of meticulous craftsmanship is the bhoota figures that can be found in the form of metal masks and cast idols. These include the likes of Mahisasura or the bull demon and bhoota attendant figures. Being of Shaivite origin, the sun and moon are a part of the craft iconographical vocabulary. Similar to the embellishment carried out on the Yakshagna mask, beaded rope work and gold tassels are common details. Tools such as blower, box moulds, clay crucible, emery paper, tongs, chisels, furnace, buffing machine etc. are used for the crafting purpose. 

Bronze casting is seasonal for the craftsmen with agriculture being their main occupation. These objects are sold seasonally during local festivals from March to May and observe the participation of craftsmen in the village of Katapadi in bell metal casting kanchukelasa. Other items cast in bronze are bowls, utensils, pots, kalashas, udipi Krishna etc. Karnataka produces traditional lamps made out of bell metal and brass and are available in many sizes. 





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