The intricate inlay work of silver or gold on black metal, bidri is a handicraft well known in Hyderabad. If you are a true connoisseur of fine artefacts, you must order an original design for yourself. Text and images by Radhika Sikaria

 

The unique craft of bidri was introduced by Persian artists. The technique makes use of an alloy of zinc and copper as base, on which, silver or gold is inlaid in patters as per the designer’s wish. Although, originally the craft was limited to geometric and floral patterns and in usage, today, innovations have led to a vast product range. New items include USB drive covers, office stationery such as paper clips, key bunches, lockets, envelope openers, pen stands, lampshades and even floor tiles. Here’s how it works.

 

The artisans begin by creating a mould.

 

 

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Afterwards, copper and zinc alloy is poured into the mould.

 

 

 

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The alloy comes in contact with the cool sand in the mould and takes shape immediately.

 

 

 

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They take it out and polish it further. Once the final shape of the base is attained, the details are engraved by chisel and hammer.

 

 

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A thin thread of silver is added over the pattern that is smoothened out before the product is added to the soil and ammonium chloride mix. This is where the magic happens. The alloy of zinc and copper turns black on oxidisation while silver retains its colour.

 

 

 

bidri