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The great artisans of state of Maharashtra exhibit their expertise in art as well as finishes of craft. The amazing fabrics of himroo and Mashru are evidence of the highest degree of weaving art. The finest quality of the fabric is the one which appears like golden cloth. The high degree weaving technique is exemplary with Narayan Peth and Paithani sarees.

Bidri is a refined and specialized technique meant for complicated inlay sequences as well as enameling which is found merely in India following the essence of Persian techniques with a way of inlaying silver and gold on copper or steel. It has 4 different techniques of casting, inlaying, engraving and finishing.  The sand casting principle has been an integral part of manufacturing Bidriware. As the object is smoothened and formed with sandpaper as well as blackened, there is a use of Kalam for chiseling the design as per the requirement and then silver wire strands get hammered into the grooves. There are brass cut and small pieces of silver sheets which are pressed in case the design has to be chiseled in bigger patterns.

The surface is blackened and then rendered on a permanent basis by rubbing the mixture of ammonium chloride and earth prior to heating. The inlay gets revealed if burnished with oil. There is a use of Bidri rust-proof as well as non-corrosive alloy of metal and is believed to be the ingenious creation developed at Bidar. This kind of decoration is sometimes worked on circular containers like bowls, jewellery boxes caskets as well as other small boxes including delightful blends of fine lattice work that is interspersed with clusters of leaves and flowers. The two major techniques being tarkashi i.e. inlay of wires as well as tehnishan i.e. inlay of sheets of metal.

Origin of Bidriware

The Bidriware is believed to have originated in the era of Bahamani sultans who were the rulers of Bidar in 13th to 15th centuries. A craftsman belonging to Iran, Abdullah bin Kaiser, got an invitation from the Sultan for working on decorating the royal courts and palaces. As per some legends, Kaiser came up with local craftsmen for giving birth to Bidriware. It has been since then, that craft was passed over to the succeeding generations usually among the local Muslims as well as Lingayat sects.

Bidriware similar to Sawantwadi crafts, have been a well-appreciated craft of the state. Bidri ware is a popular old craft found in Aurangabad. For the preparations there are lots of efforts and time to be applied, as it is a blend of copper and zinc. These serve the purpose of raw material. There is also intricate workmanship done with pure silver and is brocaded, inlaid or overlaid on the surface of metal. Initially, items of Bidri ware were meant for PaanDaans and hookahs however today they are mostly available as souvenirs.

Design of Bidriware

The usual designs of Bidri are patterns like Asharfi-ki-booti, vine creepers, stars and stylish poppy plants having flowers. There are traditional designs of Persian Rose as well as passages taken from the Quran.

There are several items of Bidri including plates, vases, bowls, ashtrays, hukka bases, trinket boxes, jewelry, studded bangles of glass are usually preferred by women.

There are around 700 artisans that include women as well in Bidar city for creating Bidriware art adorned with intricate engravings of silver and gold on things formed of alloy of copper and zinc. There is embossing done on the finished products and then the article is treated with a blend of mud taken from area of fort and various chemicals for blackening it.

Bidriware Making Process

The amazing Bidri needs lots of efforts of artisans to be put in. The basic process has inlaying of silver or gold on a copper or steel base. The process got originated in Persia but, metal meant for base at present is an alloy of copper and zinc. As a result of heating surface of zinc and copper gently, the black color is attained. The 4 basic stages in manufacturing of Bidri include casting, inlaying, engraving and oxidizing.

Casting & Engraving

The pieces are crafted by craftsmen themselves and they prepare mold clay from sand, resin as well as oil in proportion of 20:2:1 and then borax is added to the surface of clay for preventing metal sticking.  Flasks, vases and jugs are cast in 2 sections dividing in vertical patterns. The darkened zinc, the alloy has been used as a base as 9: 16 part of zinc to 1 of copper and is then melted as well as poured into moulds and finally solidified.

The rough cast surface of articles is smoothened and filed with sand paper then rubbing it with a copper sulphate solution for imparting a dark surface for providing a proper base for the purpose of tracing, designing and engraving. For engraving the design, wax of honeycomb as well as a bonding agent, 'Raal' is being used. The solution spreads on a flat stone and stuff gets engraved and then fixed. Taking help of chisel, design has been traced by hand along with 95% pure silver wire which is inlaid in grooves for forming designs. There are 5 kinds of tools meant for engraving.

In the final stage, these articles get heated and are then treated with sal-ammoniac solution along with earth of fort buildings efficient of forming surface turning to jet black to offer a unique contrast for shining silver inlay. This contrast lends Bidri, a distinct feature which none other metal ware has. Ultimately, oil gets rubbed on the pieces for deepening coating of black matt. The whole process takes place with hands and therefore it is quite time consuming.

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