The historic town of Bidar is famous for more than  its grand ruins. The ancient art of Bidri was born here, during the rule of the Bahmani sultans. It is said that Abdullah bin Kaiser, a craftsman who came from Iran on the Sultan's invitation to decorate Bidar's royal buildings, developed this art along with the local artisans. Bidriware is made with a blackened alloy of zinc, inlaid with thin wires of pure silver.

On our recent trip to Bidar, we were lucky to watch a part of the Bidriware making process in a small workshop in the old city.

First, a molten alloy of zinc and a little copper is poured into moulds, and hardened to various shapes.

The shapes formed are smoothed and covered with a temporary black coating. Intricate motifs are engraved on it, and silver wires are hammered into them.

The surface is smoothed thoroughly and it turns silvery white all over - the zinc areas too.

The surface is heated and saline mud from the dark regions of the Bidar fort that is unexposed to sunlight, is rubbed onto it, to selectively darken the body, but not the silver inlay. The paste is washed away and oil is rubbed on the surface, and tada!! Gleaming new bidriware is ready :)

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