The Bastars people
The Bastar is a district of South India in the state of Chattisgarh, it was an independent kingdom from the 14th century until its integration into India in 1948.
The tribal population accounts for 70% of the population of Bastar district: the main tribes are the Gonds - the Abhuj Maria and the Bhatras. Most of them have kept their traditions (cooking, clothing, festivals...) and their animist religion.
The tribes still live mainly from agriculture and forest resources (hunting, medicinal plants, wood...).
Some tribes have devoted themselves to brass statues art for more than 4000 years. This art, also found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar... is called Dokra.
Dokra art: a thousand-year-old knowledge in the manufacture of statues
This traditional and artisanal art has not changed for millennia (more than 4000 years) and the technique used is still that of lost wax: a rough model in clay is made and then covered with wax by the artist who will give it its final shape with its details. The whole is again covered with a clay mixture and then heated in an open hearth where a copper alloy is cast. See Blog.
The objects produced by the Dokra artists can be of usual nature: dish, candlestick... musical instruments (brass), or artistic such as jewelry, animals: horses, elephants, turtles..., or statues of men and women representing scenes of daily life and Hindu deities adopted by the tribes: Ganesh, Lakshmi, ...
Sitting, upright, the bust
is impressive, giving the musician a very strong presence. The sitting position, cross-legged, as well as the size of the bust give him a great verticality: what matters for the craftsman Dokra is to show the presence in the moment of the musician Bastar, firmly anchored to the ground like a Buddha.
For this ceremony, few jewelry, except for a few very sober necklaces, clothing is reduced to the strict minimum with a stole passed over the shoulders.
The face reflects a deep state of internalization.
The straw hat reminds us that it is often very hot in India; ceremonies can take place in very hot weather for long hours.
The cymbal takes an essential place in the statue: by choosing sobriety in the expression of the musician, the artist highlights the sacred dimension of the moment.