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Bronze Casting

Every bronze in a south Indian temple is unique. Each is created using the lost-wax (cire perdue) process, in which molten metal is poured into a hand-fashioned clay mold that is later broken apart to yield the final work of art.

These photographs document contemporary sculptors and bronze casters at a south Indian bronze workshop in Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu, which adjoins the temple town of Kumbakonam. These artists still employ the process used in the Chola period.

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Top: Details are added to the wax image with a wooden chisel. Bottom: Cold chiseling. Photos: Neil Greentree.


We are excited to reopen the Freer in October 2017, following a renovation to allow us to better present our art and serve our visitors. The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.