Bidri Work – A Tribute to Indomitable Spirit of the Artisans From Karnataka

by Shatika, March 22, 2016

Exemplary traditional excellence of AP, Bidri, has flourished for centuries.  History tells that the art of Bidri-sliver inlay on a metal alloy flourished and reached perfection under the patronage of the Bahamani and Baridi dynasties. Bidar is the abode of this distinctive craft and also is named after the place though traditionally it was originated in Persia about seven centuries ago. According to the history, this craft was introduced by the migrants in India and the craftsmen subsequently made it the art and craft identity of India. This art form is known for its lissome craftsmanship. The intricate metal work over the smooth and glossy surface of the artifacts is the most fascinating aspect of this world famous art.


Bidri in India is essentially the formation of brass alloy comprising of zinc, copper, lead, tin and traces of iron. This ancient craft, which originated as the older art of inlaying gold and silver on steel and copper, was practiced in Persia and Arabia. The usage of lustrous metals gives the created items of Bidri work a sheen that is predominantly the distinctiveness of this particular art form. This craft is practiced in India hugely and the creations are well appreciated worldwide for the stunning beauty of the items made from Bidri. While the artisans create silver designs on a metal ware, sometimes white silver is used to adorn the designs on black metal that give the items a proper ethnicity of the Bidri culture. This craft is not only deals with metals but exclusive designs are made on cloth to accelerate this craft a pace further. The embroiderers attempted to create embroidery with the same effect of Bidri by creating silver embroidery on black cloth. The stitches and the elements needed for this embroidery work are same as Zardozi.


The basic material of Bidri is an alloy of zinc and a small proportion of other non-ferrous metals. The original colour of the alloy is grey, but this turns jet black with the application of special clay or chemical. The dark ground with an inlay of silver in intricate patterns is extremely pleasing. The designs, inlaid with pure silver, stand out dramatically against the black background. The designs are usually taken from the historical fort at Bidar and the frescoes in the Ajanta caves.


The process of Bidri is same everywhere in India in A.P, Hyderabad, Karnataka or even Bihar. Which includes moldings red clay and then pouring molten solution of copper and zinc over the created item? After casting, the surface of the cast article is smoothened very finely with sandpaper and then rubbed with a solution of copper sulphate. Rubbing makes the surface turn black and thus a suitable base for the process of designing and engraving. The engraving tools cut the intricate but delicate tapestry of design into the metal ware. The most sensational work in the Bidri craft is inlaying. Here the sheets or the wires of pure silver are hammered into the grooves of the design and the surface smoothened by the help of a buffing machine and chemicals applied and the designed is smoothened with coconut oil. Indeed we are blessed that we have this rare piece of work in India.


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