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Bidriware - Antique Pieces From Hyderabad, India

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Bidri is a silver or gold inlay technique used on black metal. Hyderabad's Bidri ware is a well-known Andhra Pradesh handicraft. The 'Bidri craft' is named after the Karnataka town of Bidar, where it began. Persian artists first presented one-of-a-kind artwork. Then, Bidar was visited by skilled Bidri artists from Persia, who educated Bidri workers to make marvels for royal families.

The striking Mughal themes are artfully engraved without detracting from the craft's traditional element. Even though the art is quite popular in Hyderabad, the artists moved there from Bidar since there are more excellent marketing and exporting opportunities. Melting the alloy, casting the object, engraving and inlaying the design, and finally oxidising are the four procedures involved in inlaying silver and gold on steel or copper over a black backdrop. Mughal themes are influenced by the primary motifs, which also include geometrical and floral patterns. New designs are inlaid by the artisan, but traditional techniques are more popular. (Pandey, 2016) (Stronge, 1993)


Bidri vessels have been produced in India since at least the seventeenth century. They are known to be formed of a zinc alloy with inlays of silver, brass, or, on rare occasions, gold. The inlays contrast sharply with the vessel's matte black patina. The inquiry was inspired by the patina, which was easily damaged by traditional cleaning techniques used on the silver inlays. Several vessels were examined, and all were discovered to be zinc alloys which contain between 2% and 10% copper (i.e., lying within the binary copper-zinc equilibrium diagram's f:+11 phase field). Lead, tin, and iron are all found in some alloys. (Niece and Martin, 1987)


Tools and Raw Materials Other types of tools and raw materials used are noted below:

Metals: Zinc- molten alloy and copper are basic raw materials used in Bidri craft.

File and Buffering Machine: Various buffing blades are used to smoothen the exterior of the article.

Copper Sulphate: It is spread on the casted object to acquire a temporary black layer on the piece so that it is easy to draw the design over dark background.

Chisel: Used to carve the design on the piece.

Old Soil: It is combined with ammonium to give an enduring black coating on the article.

Silver Wire: Used to ingrain in the design grooves.

Brass Metal Wire: Brass metal wire is inlaid to improve the outer appeal of the object.

Coconut Oil: once the peice is created, coconut oil is used to exacerbate the black matt layer.

Bidri fort Mitti: Bidri fort mitti-clay is simmered, and products are submerged in the mitti solution to obtain enduring black colour.

Carving Tools: Carving instruments such as chisel, hammer, filers, and rasps are utilised during the engraving and inlaying procedure

(Prof. Baral, no date)

Raw materials:

  1. Zinc: Zinc is bluish-white shiny and occurs in the solid phase at room temperature.
  2. Copper
  3. Gold
  4. Silver
  5. Brass
  6. Carrom board powder
  7. Red clay
  8. Castor oil
  9. Copper sulphate
  10. Ammonium chloride
  11. Resin
  12. Iron
  13. Wood
  14. M-seal
  15. Plaster of Paris
  16. Acrylic sheet
  17. Beeswax
  18. Charcoal
  19. Ash
  20. Kerosene
  21. Coconut oil
  22. Bidar fort soil

(Chronicles Of Bidri_Craft Documentation by ankita_raj - Issuu, no date)

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Making Methodology

Melting the Alloy: Each Bidri item was individually cast from ordinary soil that had been made pliable with castor oil and resin. Processed 95 per cent zinc and 5% copper metal is melted at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, a molten metal alloy is poured into a mould that has been created. The object is taken from the mould once it has cooled. A newly cast piece's surface is rough, so it's smoothed up using filing and buffering.

Mould Making process:

The 'flask' for sand casting is a two-part metal frame that creates the mould's sidewalls. The frame's two parts are set out on boards and stuffed with a sand and binder mixture. The surface is scraped flat, and a releasing agent is applied.

A model is inserted between the two parts, which is also covered with a powder release agent and removed, leaving a hollow impression of the appropriate shape.

After that, the two halves are reassembled, and the frame is tightly connected to prevent it from slipping during the casting process.

The frame is inclined at an angle to allow molten zinc alloy to flow into the gate on the frame's front face while enabling gases to escape. Interestingly, earlier references to contemporary bidri ware casting characterise it as lost-wax rather than sand-casting(Stronge, 1993; Neelakantan, no date; Bidar, Its History and Monuments - Ghulam Yazdani - Google Books, no date)

Casting the Article:

Scraping and filing are used to clean the as-cast surface before polishing. This step is crucial to the final result; if we do not remove the surface casting, the metal's as-cast surface will not take on the beautiful patina.

The article is then rubbed with a copper sulphate solution to create a temporary black covering, which is then etched with the designs. Finally, with the sharp metal tool known as a stylus, all designs are created freehand on the matt black surface.

The surface of the article is engraved with a chisel. The brass metal wire is placed into the groves to enhance the outer look of the design © Baral, "Bidri-Ware - Hyderabad." Then the silver wire or sheet is inserted into the design patterns using a hammer and chisel. The inserted silver is correctly aligned by hammering.©Baral, "Bidri-Ware - Hyderabad." Finally, the inlayed product is ready for the buffing process. Buffing is done to make the surface smooth.©Baral, "Bidri-Ware - Hyderabad."

Engraving and inlaying the design:

To allow the designs to be engraved on the product, Bidri ware is firmly placed on a waxed stone to retain it. The artist carves the design with little chisels. Pure silver is hammered or inlaid into these chiselled grooves after being turned into fine flat wires. If the design motif dimensions are large, silver metal sheets are additionally inlaid. Silver wire is used to make geometrical motifs. Silver metal sheets are used to create flowery arabesques and detailed leaf motifs. Following the completion of the inlay work, the object is meticulously filed to achieve a smoother surface.

Bidri Matti is used to polishing the article, which enables permanent black colour –a characteristic of bidri ware.



The bidri item is now ready for the final phase to blacken the surface so that the silver inlay design stands out against the dark background. A specific sort of soil was brought from the three-hundred-year-old Bidri fort. When this soil is combined with ammonium chloride and water, it creates a unique solution.

The bidri piece is dipped in this solution after it has been boiled at a precise temperature. The answer has a unique oxidising feature that darkens the product's body but does not affect the inlaid silver wires when it reacts with the alloy. After that, the piece is rinsed in regular water, revealing the silver against the black surface. Finally, the object is rubbed with oil to intensify the black matt finish. (Prof. Baral, no date)

The traditional patination method employs soil from beneath the mud-brick walls of Bidar's fort, which is thought to have unique oxidising qualities. The products are dipped in the solution or, in some cases, the combination is applied as a poultice to the items after the soil is cooked with ammonium chloride. Even though brass is a zinc and copper alloy with more copper than zinc, The zinc alloy becomes black instantly. Still, the silver inlay and the brass inlay remain undamaged. Patina and experimentation replication suggests that Because that particular side of the fort's walls is frequently used as a latrine, the earth around it is soaked with salts, which is why it is utilised in traditional recipes. (Niece and Martin, 1987)

Making a solution of potassium nitrate (1 part), ammonium chloride (4 parts), and sodium chloride (1 part) in hot water provides a suitable chemical equivalent for the soil. However, the pace at which zinc and zinc alloys react, and possibly more crucially for the creation of a beautiful patina, the form and adhesion of the corrosion layer, are claimed to be affected by the temperature of the solution (Chivers and Porter 1994, p. 175-176).

Products :

Traditional Bidri goods signify royal life and enhance the aesthetics of living places. Hookah, shehnai – flower vases with Mughal motifs and star motifs, Suraj type vases in various shapes and motifs, ugaldaan, boxes, zalabchi, muqaba or spherical containers with dome-shaped tops, and flower vases are some of the products available.

Images of elephants, horses, and camels are generated. Peacocks and swans are among the birds featured in the items.


Many Bidri themes are based on Mughal designs, displayed in geometrical and floral patterns. According to the style of creation, Bidri creations have traditional names. Silver wires are used in tarkashi inlay procedures. Taihnishan, a silver sheet, is used to produce flower and petal designs. Mehtabi kaam is a surface reversal technique in which the design is carved out of sheet metal and inlaid. Munnavat Kari refers to the embossed design. The themes also feature verses from the Quran written in Arabic script.


Bidar, Its History and Monuments - Ghulam Yazdani - Google Books (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 3 December 2021).

Chronicles Of Bidri_Craft Documentation by ankita_raj - Issuu (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 3 December 2021).

Neelakantan, D.L. (no date) ‘AKSHAYKUMAR VARMA MM13B006’, p. 53.

Niece, S. and Martin, G. (1987) 'The technical examination of bidri ware', Studies in Conservation, 32, pp. 97–101. doi:10.1179/sic.1987.32.3.97.

Pandey, A. (2016) 'BIDRI WARE: A UNIQUE METAL CRAFT OF INDIA', International Journal of Research -GRANTHAALAYAH, 4(3), pp. 170–175. doi:10.29121/granthaalayah.v4.i3.2016.2799.

Prof. Baral, B. (no date) 'Bidri-ware - Hyderabad', . Introduction, p. 20.

Stronge, S. (1993) '11 - Bidri ware of India', in Niece, S.L. and Craddock, P. (eds) Metal Plating and Patination. Butterworth-Heinemann, pp. 135–147. doi:10.1016/B978-0-7506-1611-9.50015-7.

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