Carrying the rich cultural heritage, the creations of the artisans of India stand unique in maintaining the luxurious tradition of Bidri in India. This is considered to be a unique kind of art form that defines the hard work and persistency by the artisans.
Exemplary of the traditional excellence, Bidri in India has flourished in Andhra Pradesh. The history says 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 in Karnataka 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 world wide 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, though new designs have added.
The process of Bidri is same everywhere in India, which includes mouldings 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. After the inlay work the surface is turned black by applying a paste of ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, sodium chloride, copper sulphate and mud which darkens the body by producing a characteristic black patina, but without damaging the shining silver inlay. It is this contrast of black and silver that lends. At final stage, preferably coconut oil is rubbed on the piece to deepen the black matt coating.
The Bidri in India has gained its recognition as the government has formulated several new policies to boast up the artistic production of the traditional industries. The market scenario defines that Bidri work has a great market possibility in India as well as in the other sectors of the world as far as the craftsmanship is concerned. The artistic pieces of Bidri work are popular amongst the tourists.
Bidri in India has been extensively practiced and the concept and creativity combined with the dexterity of the artisans have brought this unique craft to get a proper delineation. The most effervescent centers where this craft is hugely practiced are Bidar in Karnataka and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. Among the few other centers the names of Purnia in Bihar, Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Murshidabad in West Bengal are in the list. The artisans create designs which are primarily based on the nature and human life that ranges from creepers, flowers and sometimes human figures. The local craftsmen of a village near Purnia, in Bellori, the local craftsmen who are known as the `Kansaris` are employed in molding and turning Bidri vessels. The engraving and polishing are done by the `sonars` or goldsmith. Among the variants of the Bidri craft, the artisans of these places also practice the `gharki` style of Bidri which is a less sophisticated variation of the Bidri. Lucknow`s Zar Buland is another form of Bidri craft where the ornamental designs are raised above the surface.
The exclusively created Bidri articles sometimes serve the purpose of home décor that enhance the beauty of the houses and keep an aesthetic appeal as well.