Uttar Pradesh is the largest Brass and Copper making state
in India with thousands of establishments. The range too is really wide.
In metal ware, each locale has its own special design. In domestic-ware
each of the scores of lotas (small water-pots) is known by the name of its
origin, like Etawah, Varanasi, Sitapur, etc.
The ritual articles, which are largely the specialty of Uttar Pradesh, are largely in copper like tamrapatra (pot for storing water); panchapatra for holding in all the articles needed for worship; simhasan a seat for the deity; kanchanthal, plate for offering flowers and sweets, and a host of such things. Some centre also cast icons, particularly Varanasi. A little village called Srinagar makes very beautiful traditional images with prominent conch shell eyes.
Techniques Of Casting
Two methods are used in casting: 'para', mould-casting for making a single composite item of a simple kind and; 'darza', sand-casting where various parts of an intricate object are separately prepared and then soldered.
The Mughal Patronage
Moradabad in U.P. has become synonymous with art of metalware. It is specially noted for it's colored enameling and intricate engravings in niello. The metalworkers of the city of Moradabad flourished during Mughal rule. They continue to dominate the Indian market for engraved as well as utilitarian brass.
The Art of Beautification of Metal
A thin coating of lac is given to the article and the pattern traced on it and with a steel, pointed pencil and only then engraved.
Engravings in 'nakkashi' type is done on tinned surface where the indentations are from stet as per design while the simpler ones are from memory. Thereafter the grooves are filled with 'lac' of different hues.
The decorations are done in golden color against a background made white by tin polishing. Although many of the processes are semi-mechanized, engraving continues to be done by hand. Workers in sheet brass are known as khatera and those who cast the metal are known as bharatias.
Plates, cups, bowls, boxes and coffeepots are engraved with a range of floral and geometric patterns and these compositions are often inlaid with brightly colored Lac or vegetable resin. The decorations may include scenes reminiscent of the style of Mughal painted miniatures, but also portray incidents from the Hindu Scriptures.