An image of a huge silver and black vase suddenly caught my attention while driving home from office. Displayed on a hoarding that read ‘Bidriware Exhibition’, the vase shone brightly at the highway lights.
In full excitement I reached the exhibition at the scheduled time and was completely overwhelmed to see the wide and exclusive range of Bidri-work. For a minute, I felt I am walking in some exquisite palace of the Mughals with luxurious and unique interiors inside.
Strolling through these amazingly unique artifacts in silver, golden and black, my urge to know the art-form strengthened and to add these pieces-of-art to the SouvNear collection. Thus, started our quest to discover the roots of the Bidri Art form and to find an artisan associated with the same.
Research led our sourcing team to Bidar where they came across an artisan named Shaha Rashid whose works we have presently included in SouvNear’s collection through utility items such as hooks, ashtrays and much more.
Bidar, situated on the Deccan plateau in the state of Karnatka (India) holds the rich heritage of the Bidriware craft in Indian history. The Bidri craft originated in this very city, in the 14th century, and since then this art is practiced by the descendants of the craftsmen who created this art-form and Shaha Rashid is one of them.
Born in Bidar, Shaha Rashid has been converting coarse metal into metal masterpieces from the last 21 years. He loves his art and tries to bring uniqueness in every piece he creates. Working in full determination, he feels proud to keep this art of his forefathers alive.
An interesting thing about Bidar is the soil that is used to create the Bidri art works. The soil has some unique and unknown properties that differentiate it from the soil of the rest of the places. And only this soil can create the authentic Bidriware!!
Sourcing team’s trip and interaction with Shaha Rashid brought some worthy information and pictures regarding the process, which is explained below.
Step 1: Casting
The moulds of the desired shape are prepared with soil and a molten metal, an alloy of copper and zinc, is poured into these moulds and a newly cast piece is created.
Step 2: Filing
As the newly cast piece is rough, it is filed with sandpaper to a smooth finish. The cast is then layered with copper sulfate to give it a rich black look.
Copper Sulfate to be used on a Bidri Article
Step 3: Designing
On this black surface the designs are drawn freehand. The commonly created designs are intricate floral and geometrical patterns.
Step 4: Engraving
After this the piece is tightly fixed at a place so that it becomes easier to do etching on the drawn design. The grooves are created using sharp chisels on the designs.
Step 5: Inlaying
The most important and intricate step of this art-form is the inlaying part. The metal wires or the sheets (silver/copper) are inlaid into the grooves with the help of hammers. The piece is again rubbed with sandpaper to lend a smooth texture.
Thin wires being inlaid into the Bidri Article
Step 6: Oxidizing
The piece is dipped in a boiling mixture of sand and ammonium chloride. The sand used is procured from the old forts of Bidar. This mixture is then removed from the surface. In this process, the silver remains as it is but the black color is deeply enriched.
Sand mixture being prepared
A vase is immersed in a boiling mixture of sand and ammonium chloride
Finished silver and black Bidri article
This is how these masterpieces get the final finish as I witnessed them in the exhibition—the finish that’s dependent upon the skill of the experts to mix metals in appropriate proportions and then inlay wires into the piece as even a minute imbalance may disturb the entire process.
Artistically handcrafted, these Bidri articles are classy interior-decorating items perfect for adding to your home or office décor.
We could have never known about something called the ‘Bidri Art’ if I had ignored that image of a huge shining vase and had not visited the exhibition. You may not be able to showcase that vase in your home but yes, these small-yet-utility articles of Bidri are very much possible through SouvNear.
We hope you enjoy picking such interesting artifacts and further adorning your tabletops with them!