Mohras are the centuries-old metal work which is still practiced in Himachal Pradesh. Mohra art form represents Lord Shiva and other deities, these deities are worshipped in areas of Chamba and Kullu. The metal work done in signifies the culture of Himachal Pradesh, usually created by expert metal work designers in the forms of unique jewellery. The doors of many temples here have metal work done on them. Buddhist monasteries have Mohra art form due to a fond liking of Mohra by Buddhist.
Himachal Pradesh is very famous for its amazing architecture, natural beauty, arts and crafts such as painting, stone carving, jewellery, metal works like Mohras and so on. The interesting fact about Mohra metal work is that every town in the state has its own unique technique and design. These craft works are as old as 14th century. The metal work artists are practicing the art and have become professionals in the unique creations. The statuettes at the temple entrances of Brahmaur, or the Vajreshwari Devi temple, are the very few fulgent models of excellent metal craftwork. Even, the temple doors of Vajreshwari Devi, Jwalamukhi, Bhimkali and Chandika Devi, explore the great craftsmen installed. Mohras or metal plaques representing a deity are common in Kullu and Chamba. The metal crafters who design the metal craftwork use bronze, copper, iron, and bell metal as well.
Apart from the glittering statues, many home items are made such as—lamps, handles, bells, and many others, by using the metals. The craftwork is not just made for temples and monasteries, they were also made for common people. As per the history, the metal craft in Himachal Pradesh is developed because of the region’s law court of the kings, who were experts in metalwork during the period of 600 AD. Since then, the metal craftsmen have been practicing the art and have become experts in this unique craft making.
Metalworks of Mohras gives the artist a chance to make artistically created jewelleries, one of the examples is Pahari jewellery. Pahari women are seen sporting metal bangles, beaded metal necklaces etc. ‘Chandahaar’ is also another metal which is used in a form of jewellery piece made by Mohra artist. It is usually made up of 5 to 7 strings of gold beads of chandahaar. Himachal Pradesh has a high value for religious beliefs in the life of people, and worship places are regarded with all due respect. The temples need metal not just for the shining statues, but it also uses metal for lamps, bells, musical instruments, and vessels. The metal used in temples includes copper, brass, tin, ball metal and iron.
These metal works have been practiced in Himachal since 1400 years. You can see Mohras all around the temples, especially during large scale festivals like Dussehra in Kullu village.
Metal art is seen as most intriguing crafts of Himachal. Chamba is considered as a prime center for metal casting. The carving of temples at Bharmour and Chamba are crafted by professional craftsmen in bronze. This art was brought to Chamba by Kashmiri artists who were famous for the art of bronze and image casting. Today the craftsmen are seen sharpening their craftsmanship skills of metals to become the master of this art. The carvings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga installed and carved in Kullu and Chamba are always made of brass and copper. The distinctive style of carvings of Buddhism and Hinduism can be seen in the metalwork of Kinnaur district. Also another ornament named ‘Lahaul-Spiti’ which has influenced the Tibetans with its exceptional designs is also carved with semi-precious stones such as coral, giant pearl etc.
Materials and Tools are Used in This Craft
Metal burner, metal cutter, metal bender, metal roller, drill presses, lathes, and pipe products.
Materials used to prepare mohra metals may vary from district to district or from village to village in Himachal Pradesh. In General, metals or materials that are used in creating Mohra metal work includes—the gold, silver, brass, bronze, mercury, copper, iron, tin and bell metal as well.