Bronze casting in India is a very ancient technique and dates back 5000 years to the lovely dancing girl of Harrapan Civilization. Rulers of Chola dynasty (9th century) were great temple builders and the religion was propagated and brought to the people through the mobile images of gods and goddesses in bronze. Exquisite bronzes which are considered as grand exposition of Indian art of Medieval period were made during their rule. These artists were constrained by the codes and regulations of ritual treatises and dhyana shalokas prescribing mode of worship and the forms of the deities. At the same time artist used draw inspiration from the devotional poetry of saints that’s why the bronze of best aesthetic value were produced during this period.
Each bronze is made by the traditional technique of lost wax technique. In this process a wax mould of sculpture is first created. All the carving and detailing is done on this wax model. Next this wax model is covered with layers of very fine clay with opening in bottom and top, which takes the impression of the designs created on the wax model. It’s then again covered with thick layer of mixture of clay, cow dung and rice husk and left to get dried. It is then heated and on high temperature and melted wax drained out from the clay mould from bottom opening. The empty space created by lost wax is filled with molten metal, which is heated on very high temperature. The molten metal is very skilfully poured into the clay mould from the top opening and during this whole process the mould is continuously kept heated so the metal is evenly filled in each and every corner evenly. This is the most crucial stage and required skilled craftsmanship. Next the piece is allowed to cool and after few days the outer shell of clay mould is broken and the metal sculpture is revealed.
Final touching, engraving and polishing is done by skilled craftsman. Similarly the face is also done by master craftsman.
The difference of this Lost Wax Technique (known as Cire-Perdue) and other casting methods is that each mould could only be used once as it is lost in the course of casting which implies that each mould is modeled and cast individually and therefore is a unique.