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Bidri ware: Traditional Metal Art of India

Bidri ware is a traditional handicraft of India that flourished at Bidar, in Karnataka, India. Bidri ware is an art of inlaying silver on black metal. Bidri ware involves the crafting of tin, copper, lead and zinc, into beautiful patterns and intricate designs. The Persians, Syrians and Iranians introduced Bidri handicraft into India more than 4000 years ago. This art got was patronized by the Mughal kings and found its abode within the town of Bidri. Bidri art originated with ornamented Royal swords and weapons, but later came to conquer such humble things as utensils and cigarette boxes. .

The beautiful craft of Bidri requires relentless efforts and long hours of dedication from the artists. The original Persian method of Bidri involved the inlaying of gold or silver on a steel or copper base. Presently, an alloy of zinc and copper is used as the base metal. Zinc lends a deep black tint to the alloy. This alloy metal base is overlaid with silver or brass. After finshing casting and molding, the surface is filed smooth to lend it the typical Bidr glimmer and sheen. It is then temporarily blackened with copper sulphate solution and etched into a traditional pattern using a sharp iron tool. Silver wires and sheets are then beaten into the designed grooves, rendering it with an appearance of the night sky full of twinkling stars. During the final oxidation process, the shiny surface is briefly heated and rubbed with a thick paste of ammonium chloride. The chemical is supposedly mixed with a special clay from the walls of the Bidar Fort. The final step of making Bidri ware is using groundnut or coconut oil to polish each Bidri item. Presently, Bidri work is used in making a vase, bangle, bracelet, goblet, ashtray, plate, Jewellery or box