METALWORKMetalwork is the most important of Punjab's arts and crafts. The common use of metal objects in daily life has necessitated the evolving of various products and techniques. The metal workers of Amritsar are as adept as the best metalsmiths in any other part of the province. As mentioned by Sir Denzil Ibbetson in his book "Punjab Castes", the metalworkers of the Punjab are mostly Hindus. They were called Thavi in the Pahari areas of Punjab Himalayas and in the Punjab plains they were known as Kasera, Thathera or Kaser. In northern India, more especially in the Punjab, even members of higher castes - Brah-mans, Khatris, Rajputs, Kanets, etc. -ply this profession. The metal-workers of Amritsar are known for their skill in various forms of casting, soldering, methods of decoration such as repousse, pierced work, chasing, engraving, etc. Metal pots and other utensils are used by the housewife in her kitchen. Metal objects are necessary for religious rituals in the homes as well as in the temples. Among these objects are included temple lamps and trumpets (Narasinga). Decorative objects are for those who can afford them. The most remarkable are engraved metal doors and the Kalashas of the temples, the Chhattra and the three-dimensional life-size metal sculptures of lion, Durga's charger, and Nandi, Shiva's mount outside their respective temples. In the 19th century, figurative panels engraved in low relief were very common in the Hindu temples and Sikh gurudwaras. At times, the doors were plated with gold and silver and very fine repousse work was done on them. My father worked on the silver plated doors of Lakshmi-Narayan temple at Durgiana and was also commissioned to make Chhattra in gold for the Golden temple which is now preserved in their treasury.
|Metal craftsmen engaged in repousse work were called Chitera in Amritsar. It may be noted here that the word'Chitera' means a painter; the term is commonly used in this sense in the erstwhile Hill states of the Punjab Himalaya, now incorporated in Himachal Pradesh. The best examples of repousse can be seen even now in a Shiva temple situated in ba2ar Bikanerian. It is not known which metalsmith had executed it. It is one of the finest examples of repousse metal and was discovered in 1958. The names of a few master metal craftsmen of Amritsar known to me are Edda Agakhani, Hamam Dass (my father), Vasdev better known as Vasso, Bishan Dass popularly called Bissfi, Charan Dass and Gopal Dass.|
Sources: Cultural Heritage of Punjab, K C Aryan