Metal Craft of Dharamsala

Norbulingka Institute, set up in Dharamsala for the preservation of Tibet`s cultural traditions, has a centre specifically established to provide training in the art of both sheet metal and metal casting. It is the combined use of these techniques that distinguishes Tibetan metal work. The training received by the craftsmen includes the development and refinement of drawing skills and knowledge of the proportion system and measurements laid down in canonical texts. The skills of the craftsmen are usually directed towards making statues and relief panels that serve the ritual and spiritual requirements of the monastery.

A punch is used to create the relief of the desired image on bronze sheets using Repoussé technique* while the chasing technique is utilized to form the details. The punches used to sculpt the metal sheets are custom made, created by beating hot metal iron rods into any desired shape. The embossed sheets are cleaned and polished and are usually used as ornamental bases around the statue`s framework. Key products used are Idols, Relief panels, Ritual objects, Bells and Utensils.

Apart from exposing volunteers to metal craft at Norbulingka Institute, we will also expose volunteers to traditional processes used by goldsmiths and silversmiths of Kangra, to create gold and silver items.

(*) Repoussé or repoussage is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design. While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. These techniques allow the achievement of tremendous detail, not only with regard to facial and other features, but also in the remarkable flow of garments and the rich decoration of ornamental haloes.