Bidriware derives its name from Bidar
, a town in Karnataka
, where this art form flourished in the late medieval period (17th to 19th century). Bidri is a form of surface ornamentation in black colors, which never fades and is coated with silver and gold coverings.
Gunmetal, which is an alloy of zinc and copper is used for Bidri. The manufacturers use various moulds to give shape to the gun metal. Objects are first cast from a brass mold. When the molten metal solidifies the designs are engraved using a grooving chisel and inlaid with silver wire. The product is then polished and dipped into a special oxidizing solution of ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, sodium chloride, and copper sulphate. The silver inlay is unaffected but the zinc alloy turns a shining black. Oil is then rubbed in to enhance the black matt finish.
This art work was used by the Sufis, the Mughals, and the warriors to decorate their ornaments of valor-swords, daggers, lances and shields.
Flower vases, cigar and jewelry boxes and Huqqa buttons are the most sought after products of Bidri craft. Items like key chains, cuff links, paper weights, and paper knives are other Bidri craft which are used as gift articles.
Today Hyderabad and Bidar account for the bidri production in India.