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The stunning metallic gloss, artistic patterns of royal Bidricraft have a powerful story to tell. Wrapped in an uncertainty of its origin, the craft is said to have had made its way to India from Persia by the followers of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. It is said that Sultan Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahmani, who was a patron of arts and culture himself, invited an Iranian master craftsman, Abdullah bin Kaiser at his darbar, thereafter, Bidri metal craftsmanship continued to this day among thousands of artists which made this an art of international stature. The art form is an amalgamation of Turkey, Persia and Arabic countries intermingled with the local styles, and thus, a distinct style was born. The current practitioners are the Muslims and Lingayats. Bidri metal craft is unique in its production. The surprising facts of this craft are that the stunning jet black color comes from the use of local clay of Bidar and the metal does not rust!
Initially practised in Bidar region of Karnataka, the art has now practitioners in Hyderabad, Telangana and even Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh in India. Its elegance and sophistication are reflected in various products; luxurious jewellery box, earrings, decorative flower vase, royal hookah, bangles, card holders, house decoration pieces like elephants, peacocks, bookmarks to name a few.
The complex production process includes eight different stages, which are either divided between multiple artisans or executed solely by a single artisan. The production being manually intensive is demanding, it requires a persistent craftsmanship as one has to be determined, consistent, and patient. The fact that makes it even more precious is that the work is done by deft hands of the artists. Primarily the designs are of two types: Aftabi and Mehtabi; in Persian these words are interpreted as the sun and the moon respectively. Aftabi is where the background is black and the design is silver. Mehtabi design means that the background is silver whereas the design is black.
Bidriware is classified into three forms depending on the depth of embedding and the quality of the metal affixed to the surface; namely nashan meaning deeply cut work, zar nashan or raised work and tarkashi, the wire inlay work. The primary or base metals used for this craft are zinc and copper alloys.