Sunday, 31 January 2016

Koftgari- Indian form of damascening

When we look at the glorious past of India, the bygone era of Rajputs has been one of great eminence and bravery. To date, the Rajputs are known for their ceremonious weaponry intricately handcrafted with koftgari art.

Koftgari Sword

The art of koftgari (Indian damascening) closely resembles the damascening found in Persia. This coveted art form was extolled by Sikligar community (found in the states of Gujrat, Punjab and Haryana in India) who handcrafted exquisitely ornamented yet functional arms for the Rajputs and Mughals. Koftgari is now practiced by the artisans of Udaipur region of Rajasthan in India.

The base for koftgari artwork is a hard metal like steel, iron or bronze and the inlay is a soft metal like gold or silver. This combination prevents the base from deforming when the wire inlay is hammered into the surface and results in the inlaid areas being well-defined and of sharp appearance.


Koftgari process

The base metal is first scratched with a knife (chirni) in a very close cross-hatch pattern. Then fine silver wire is inlaid with the help of a pointed tool called “salai” in the etched grooves to make outline for the patterns. After this, the main design is filled with gold or silver wires. Once the motifs are filled, the outlining silver wires are removed and melted for reuse. The article is then patinated by holding it over a charcoal fire until the desired purple-black colour is attained. It is then polished with hakik (agate) stone and quenched and treated with vegetable oil to preserve the colour. Designs that use both gold and silver wires are called ganga-jamuna koftgari.

Patterned Dagger

During the Mughal and Rajput rule, the craftsmen often adorned swords, shields, armors, helmets, knives and daggers for the royals but the modern day artisans are giving new dimension to this art by ornamenting domestic items such as jewellery boxes, betel containers, mirror frames. 

Animal Head Dagger
Beautiful handles daggers and knives carved in the shape of different animal heads are quite popular today. These make the perfect gift for any occasion and can be used as wall adornments or even as a stylish paper cutter. The intricate koftgari workmanship on these daggers make them a collector’s prized possession.

Koftgari handcrafted products are amazing stand-out pieces of art with intricate patterns and incredible style. This unique, magnificent and regal craft is amour-propre of India and every piece is a treasure on its own.

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