The art of Bidriware today is an purely Indian innovation of an age-old Persian art.It originated in the Deccan region of southern India which comprised of parts of the present day states of Karnataka,Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Bidar was the epicentre of this craft as it was the once the capital of the Bahamani sultanate which was established by Alauddin Hassan Bahaman Shah who was possibly of a Tajik-Persian descent. Persian craftsmen used this while doing the forts and palaces of the Bahamani rulers.
The art of Bidri is divided into 3 forms depending on the depth of embedding done on each product and also on the material used for embedding.First form is called the Nashan or deeply cut work,second form is the Zar Nashan which is the raised work and thirdly the Tarkashi which comprises the wire inlay work.
The raw material used is an alloy of zinc,copper and other non-ferrous materials.This alloy is then melted at nearly 800 degrees Fahrenheit.This molten alloy is then poured into a desired mould.You then get a roughly casted piece which is smoothened with filers and sandpaper.
A solution of Copper sulphate is then applied to the cast so as to enable the artist to draw a visible design over it with the help of a sharp metal stylus. After the designing is done,the pattern is engraved by hand using steel chisels.
The inlaying work is done at this stage which is an extremely intricate process.Silver wires are hammered expertly into the engraved grooves of the design.This cast is then soaked in a solution of sal ammoniac mixed with the soil of the Bidar forts which has special oxidising property.Due to this the zinc-copper alloy background turns into a deep black leaving the silver inlay work intact to contrast incredibly well with the black background.
Finally,coconut oil is applied to give the product a lustrous shine.
The Bidriware range is exhaustive ranging from boxes,vases,goblets,hookahs,jewellery,ashtrays table stationery to animal figures and more…these products are sold extensively through the state owned Cauvery Emporiums at reasonable prices. You will come across many other stores selling Bidri products via online stores too.
It is a beautiful craft which needs to survive for itself and for the many other incredible hands who give it a form and life.Let us support it too.
LONG LIVE INCREDIBLE HANDS!