India – History and Society – for those who wish to think and learn for themselves
Bidriware first appeared probably in the mid-fourteenth to fifteenth centuries in the city of Bidar in Bidar district in modern day Karnataka. Bidar is the northern most district of Karnataka and lies quite close to Hyderabad.
Bidar served as the capital of the Bahmani Kingdom from 1425 to 1518, after which it became one of the five Deccan Sultanates. The fort and mosques of Bidar still attract tourists and reflect the glory of this kingdom. Eventually Bidar became part of the dominions of the Nizam of Hyderabad, and remained in Hyderabad state even after the amalgamation of Hyderabad into the nation of India in 1948. It was only in 1956 that Bidar moved over to Karnataka in view of its Kannada language speaking majority.
It is believed that a Persian artisan was invited over by the Bidar Sultan and he helped introduce and develop the technique. The wares are made of an alloy of zinc and copper, baked using the soil found in Bidar, with silver inlay providing a brilliant contrast of silver with the black alloy.
Bidriware is now exported worldwide and exquisite pieces are housed in various museums across the globe. Until a decade ago, Bidriware was sold at throwaway prices. It is only recenly that the true worth of the skills involved in making Bidriware has been recognised and pieces of such work lying in your attic handed down generations may well be worth a small fortune. Deservedly so.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons – Randirreddy at en.wikipedia