Bidar is a little town in the southern Indian State of Karnataka. It is famous for a special type of metal craft known as Bidri – taking its name from the town itself.
Bidri art is a technique of making designs in silver in a base of a mixture of metals like zinc and copper, which combine to become black in colour. The silver patterns gleam and glow against the black background. The technique is used to make vases, wall plates, jewellery boxes, and other handicraft items.
This technique is really old. It is believed to have been brought to India by Persian craftsmen ages ago. It was made popular by the Bahami Sultans who ruled the Bidar area between the 13th and 15th centuries. Initially, even gold was used to make the designs, but since it is very expensive, silver is mostly used now. At times, brass is also used.
The art work is done in several stages, and many craftsmen work on each piece. The designs on the vases, jewellery boxes and other items are usually inspired by nature. They are simple, yet striking, because of the contrast in colours.
Bidar is where most of this work is still done, but craftsmen in Maharashtra and Telangana, which are Karnataka’s neighbours, also make Bidriware. But wherever it is produced, it is called Bidri work. It has been given a ‘Geographical Indication’ tag – this means that all over the world, people know that one particular region of India is famous for this kind of work.
Bidri handicrafts are admired by people of other countries, and India exports a lot of it.