Home Make in Manipur MSF2015: Brass and Bronze metal crafts from Thongam Sharatchand

MSF2015: Brass and Bronze metal crafts from Thongam Sharatchand


Metal craft of Manipur has not flourished to big trade and remained limited to local surroundings. There are number of metal items made apart from the regular ones. Artists here design products in unique shapes and have derived aesthetic value from ancient low wax process. Apart from bell metal brass, copper and bronze are the metals used for making items.
Thongam Sharatchand is an artisan from Singjamei Khongnangpheidekpi who makes various items of brass and bronze metal crafts. He showcases his items at the Manipur Sangai festival 2015.
Chaisel Ngakra Tengkot, Khujai, Shempak, Emoinu Chengphu, Tengkot Khongmanbi etc are some of the products made by the artisan.
The craft is a family legacy. Thongam Sharatchand inherited the skill from his father. Now, Sharatchand’s three sons — Thongam Dilip, Thongam Dijen and Thongam are supporting their father in the craft.
Process of making items from brass and bronze metal
The craftsmen cast their own pieces, making moulding clay from sand, resin and oil in proportion (20:2:1) and add borax to the clay surface to prevent the metal sticking. The alloy, the darkened zinc used as base is described as nine to sixteen part of zinc to one of copper, is melted and poured into the moulds and solidified.
The surface of the rough cast of the articles is filled and smoothened with sand paper and then rubbed with a solution of copper sulphate to impart a dark surface to provide a suitable base for the next stage of tracing the design and engraving.
To engrave the design, wax from honeycomb and Raal, a bonding agent, is used. This solution is spread on a flat stone and the article to be engraved is fixed on it. The design is traced by hand, with the help of chisels and pure silver wire of 95% purity is inlaid in the grooves to form designs. There are five different types of tools used for engraving.
In the ultimate interesting stage, the articles are heated gently and treated with a solution of sal-ammoniac and earth taken from old fort buildings, which has the effect of making the entire surface turn jet black providing a distinct contrast to the shining silver inlay.

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