Friday, 5 September 2008

Dhamrai - The brass village

Today I got to go sightseeing outside Dhaka, well 2o kilometres or so outside. It did take just over an hour to get to the village of Dhamrai, known as the brass village. Here Sukanta Banik and his family are maintaining the "Lost Wax" method, which is more than 2000 years old, to produce stunning pieces in brass and bronze. His shop and workshop are located in the beautiful house on the mainstreet of Dhamrai; mind you I think there really is only 1 street!

In the "lost wax" method a wax figure is made that has the identical design to the final brass product, often a statue, that is required. Then the wax figure is covered with layers of clay to look like those below.

Then the clay-covered wax model is fired and the wax "disappears", actually igniting on exposure to the heat. After bronze or brass is then poured into the now empty mould, it solidifies then the clay is broken leaving a unique piece. A piece is shown below.
This piece below I suspect was done using one of the other methods that the workshop uses.
Many of the figures made are related to the Hindu religion with the figures beng made out 8 metals - copper, zinc, tin, iron, lead, mercury, silver and gold; which are believed to have an auspicious link to the planets. The business also bolds old brass and bronze pieces that are usually plain on the outside. Craftsmen then etch designs into the surface creating a new artifact. One of these products is the "singing bowl", which after having its rim stroked by a wooden wand it begins to hum ("sing"). Absolutely beautiful. Chloe practises here:

There was lots of beautiful pieces there - a chess set, the bowls, Hindu statues, bracelets, animal statues and ornaments to hang on the walls. But talk about heavy and expensive. I hope to go back to visit the village sometime, maybe then I will buy something. I just looked today.

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