The beauty of the aesthetic designs and patterns etched in silver against the deep black colour makes the products appealing to the eye and draws a large number of consumers world-wide. The unique aspect of the Bidri craft is the soil used to ornament the art objects. This soil has not received rain or sunlight for centuries and is collected by artisans from the inner areas of the Bidar Fort.

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      The most distinctive feature about Bidri is the ability to use its inlay technique on a variety of different products. Bidri can be seen on products all the way from showpieces to utensils to textiles. The most common usage of Bidri can be found on products such as lamp shades, wall plates, wine decanter, and hookahs. Various other products such as shehnai are created with Mughal motifs and star motifs, surai-type of vase in different shape and motif, ugaldaan, boxes, zalabchi, muqaba or round containers with dome-shaped lids, flower vases. Images of animals like elephant, horse camels are created alongside birds like peacocks and swans.

      Bidri in India is essentially the formation of a brass alloy consisting of- zinc, copper, lead, tin and traces of iron. The usage of lustrous metals gives the created items of Bidri work a shine that is predominantly the distinctiveness of this particular art form. This craft is practised in India hugely and the creations are well appreciated worldwide for the stunning beauty of the items made from Bidri. While the artisans create silver designs on a metal ware, sometimes white silver is used to adorn the designs on black metal that give the items a proper ethnicity of the Bidri culture. This craft not only deals with metals but exclusive designs are made on cloth to accelerate this craft a pace further. The Bidri patterns are so breathtakingly beautiful that various artisans have even started using them on fabrics and ornaments like necklaces and earrings. The embroiderers attempted to create embroidery with the same effect of Bidri by creating silver embroidery on black cloth. The stitches and the elements needed for this embroidery work are the same as Zardozi.


      Bidri in India is significant for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the beauty of the aesthetic designs and patterns etched in silver against the deep black colour makes the products appealing to the eye and draws a large number of consumers world-wide. The products with the inlay technique of Bidri are exported all over the world due to which this handicraft and its production is known to bring a significant amount of revenue in. The significance of Bidri can also be found in its wide adaptability, meaning that Bidri can be used on several different products ranging all the way from showpieces to ornaments to textiles- you name it!

      The unique aspect of the Bidriware craft is the soil used to ornament the art objects. This soil has not received rain or sunlight for centuries and is collected by artisans from the inner areas of the Bidar Fort. The soil contains ingredients that give a lustrous black colour to Bidriware. Therefore, the usage of this raw material also contributes to the specialty of Bidriware and its significance.

      Moreover, the Bidri handicraft has also been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag which further increases its popularity and appeal all over the world. The Bidri art in India has also gained its recognition as the Government has formulated several new policies to boost up the artistic production of the traditional industries. The market scenario defines that Bidri work has a great market possibility in India as well as in the other sectors of the world as far as the craftsmanship is concerned. The artistic pieces of Bidri work are also extremely popular amongst the tourists. Apart from this, the craftsmen involved in making of the Bidriware also given significant recognition. The first person to win the national award for Bidri craft was Syed Tassaduq Hussain in 1969. Followed by that, other notable artists like Abdul Hakeem and have also won
      several awards. Shah Majeed Quadri, a popular Bidri artist also offered a live demonstration of Bidri art on the 2011 Republic day. The Indian Government also has awarded him and MA Rauf with Shilpguru
      A prominent export, metalware soil primarily found in the ruins of Bidar fort protected from sunlight and rain contains specific chemicals that give a lustrous black colour to the product. Sahayog, an NGO located in Bidar, Karnataka is economically supporting artisans that have spent a lifetime attempting to passionately perfect.

      Myths & Legends:

      Since Bidriware has been a significant part of India for such a long period of time, there are several myths and legends attached to its production. One such tale recites the story of a struggling craftsman that used to carve wooden statues of saints. Though this was practised by many artisans his business failed and remained poor. One day as he struggled to carve and earn enough for his family he hurt his hand. The bleeding craftsman began rolling around the ground in despair as he worried about his family as he wasn’t able to provide for them. Suddenly he heard a holy sadhus voice telling him to stop grieving and the voice promised him a secret of a unique art that would help support him and his family that must be kept a secret and passed on only from father to son. The art was also not meant to be commercialised into a business and allow them to only live in abundance but not unnecessary luxury. Bidriwork was meant to only bring joy and happiness to customers and artisans, not satisfy greed.

      The soil from the Bidar fort is considered to have special qualities. Some artisans believe that the soil has been kept away from sunlight and rain for years, as a result of which it has great oxidising properties. Others believe that the part of the Bidar fort from where the soil is brought used to be a mine and therefore, metal extracts in the soil make it unique. The artisans say that the quality of the Bidri earth is very important and the real art lies in testing the mud which is necessary for making the articles. What sounds unusual to people is the fact that the artisans test the soil by tasting it with their tongues and then decide whether to use it or not. This knack comes from experience and is passed on to the next generation.


      The origin of Bidri Work is accredited to the Bahmani Sultans that ruled the Bidar district between the 14th and 15th centuries. An amalgamation of Turkish, Arabic and Persuan designs flourished under the Bahmani Sultanate though there is no written factual document on how the art migrated to Karnataka. It is said to be brought to India by the followers of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisty in the 12th century. Artisans came all the way from Persia (present day Iran) and scattered themselves around the country. Sultan Ahmed Shah was impressed by their skill and gathered them to teach local artisans.

      The term ‘Bidriware’ or ‘Bidri’ is derived from ‘Bidar,’which is a small town in Karnataka. Initially, Bidar was part of erstwhile Hyderabad State and after 1956 it has become part of Karnataka State bordering Andhra Pradesh (83 miles from Hyderabad). Bidriware dates back to the Kakatiya time.

      This craft was initially introduced in Bidar by a Persian artisan Abdulla-bin-Kaiser, who was among a group of skilled workers brought from Iran by Sultan Ahmed Shah Wali Bahmani in the early 5th Century. Therefore, the origin of the craft in India can be attributed to the Bahamani sultans who ruled over Bidar in the 13th–15th centuries. Abdulla’s expertise in this exquisite craft impressed the sultan to such an extent that he arranged for the training of local craftsmen in bidriware handicraft in the Mahmud Gawan madrasa. In its original Persian avatar, Bidri work involved the laying of gold or silver on a steel or copper base. However, in the present, alloys of zinc and copper are used as the base metal. The craftsmen sketch intricate floral and geometric designs on the matt black surface using a sharp metal stylus. This special type of encrusted etalware was used to embellish various objects, including platters, paan boxes, gobles, hookahs and trays.


      The designs of the Bidriware are the most charismatic and appealing factor that draws a large number of consumers from around the world. There are various types of Bidri craft that vary significantly from one another. They can mainly be categorised into 4, these are-
      • Teh Nashin- This includes a thick gold/silver inlay into deep engravings on a surface of base metal. This happens to be the most common type of early Bidri that is continued to practise till date. It is done against black background and the designs are flushed on the surface irrespective of any relief. There are mostly floral patterns which are engraved on the surface of metal ware and inlaid with silver after that.
      • Aftabi- This includes silver inlay on background while all the designs tend to appear in black. It requires high skills and consumes a lot of time. This uses silver sheets instead of wires to cover up large spaces of background compared to the wires.
      Tarkashi- This is solely plain wire work. The grooves needed for designs are made on the surface. Thick silver wires are needed according to the designs. It is then inlaid on black surface. It is commonly recognized as phooljhadi work.
      • Zar Nashin/Zar Buland- This refers to inlaying with high or low relief. Silver is inlaid on a lead pad so that patterns stand up from the surface like 3D.

      The design sense involved in the making of Bidriware is vastly inspired by the designs etched into the ceilings and walls of the mosque of Bibi ka Maqbara which was commissioned by Aurangzeb in the late 17th century in the memory of his first wife. Geometricals designs, florals inlays, crisscross patterns, roses, are heavily influenced by the architure of the monument. Having originated in Karnataka, the Bidriware seen in Auranagabad, thus displays its own spirits through design elements incorporated in the craft after the construction of the regal structure. The Bidri designs are usually patterns such as the ‘Asharfi-ki-booti,’ stars, vine creepers and stylized poppy plants with flowers. Traditional designs include the Persian Rose and passages from the Quran in Arabic script. Today, Bidriware is primarily produced for the tourist market and
      leans heavily towards cigarette boxes, small hinged boxes, hookahs and other larger objects such as lamp stands or tall vases are now collector’s items. Traditional designs are still very popular such as the Lal jungle, the intricate pattern of leaves and flowers which is reminiscent of the background of the frescoes in Ajanta and finds a parallel in Himroo work. Phool Jadi, another design showcases closely clustered stars. The lotus, rose and poppy in stylised forms are also popular. Sometimes calligraphy is seen when a verse from the Koran is used to embellish an article. The Greek or Chinese key design is used in bands and other articles like
      trays. Geometric designs using an inverted ‘V’ combined with wavy lines are very effective.


      Despite the popularity of Bidriware, just like all other Indian handicrafts, there are a certain set of challenges faced by this industry as well.
      The biggest challenge, or so to speak, boosting factor faced by Bidriware is surrounded around  the key aspect of innovation and design. Several workshops have been conducted by various design institutes all across India to support these artisans and create a blend of traditional and modern designs. The traditional art which is identified with a limited set of designs is now trying to diversify and find a foothold in the present-day market and appeal to younger patrons. New products such as USB drive covers, office stationeries such as paper clips, key bunches, lockets, envelope openers, pen stands, lampshades and even floor tiles are being sold so as to appeal to the younger generations. The National Institute of Design (NID) has come up with novel and lighter items that use less silver and therefore, cost less to further support these artisans. Various other suggestions such as the usage of wood and bidri metal together or the brass pipes and bidri metal can be a great idea since it not only gives a modern look if used correctly but also reduces the weight and price to certain extent. The efforts and initiatives taken by the government and other institutions have allowed for the improvement and growth of this industry and allowed it to gain this ability to move beyond the expected challenges of creativity and design.

      Introduction Process:

      The Bidri article is firmly fixed on a waxed stone and held in a way that allows for engraving designs on the article using small chisels. Pure silver is converted into fine flat wires and hammered or inlaid carefully into these chiselled grooves. Silver metal sheets also inlaid if the design motif dimensions are wide. Generally, geometrical designs are created with a silver wire wherein the floral arabesques and intricate leaf patterns are designed with silver metal sheet. After the inlaid work is complete, the article is filed rigorously to obtain a smoother surface.

      Raw Materials:

      The following raw materials are used in the process of making Bidriware items-
      Metals– An alloy of zinc and copper are main important raw materials used in Bidri craft making. These two metals are required in the ratio of 16:1.
      Copper Sulphate- This is applied on the casted object to obtain a temporary black coating on the article. This is done to ensure that it is easy to sketch the design over the dark background.
      Old Soil– This is mixed with ammonium to give a permanent black coating to the article.
      Coconut Oil– This is used once the product is made to deepen the black matt coating.
      Bidri fort Mitti: Bidri fort mitti/clay is boiled and products are dipped in the mitti solution to obtain permanent black color. The soil from this fort is the most unique raw material used in the entire process.
      • Other raw materials include- coal, bees wax, silver, gold, sand paper, lead, tin, and charcoal.

      Tools & Tech:

      There are several tools that are used in the process of making the Bidriware items. These are as follows-
      File and Buffering Machine– Different types of buffing blades are used to smoothen the surface of the article.
      Chisel (Kalam)- This is used to engrave the design on the article.
      Silver Wire– This is used to engrave the design grooves.
      Brass Metal Wire– This is inlayed to enhance the outer appeal of the product.
      Carving Tools- These include tools such as hammer, filers, and rasps that are used for the engraving and inlaying process.
      • Other tools used in the process include- files (round and flat of various sizes), drills, scrapers, blowers, teapoy or small stool, vice, grinder, saw, scissors, pliers, wire drawing scale, tongs, balance, scales, crucible, brushes, and polish brushes.
      Each and every tool has a integral role to play at the different stages of the Bidriware making process. The large number of tools used are an indication of the detailing and intricacy required to make these products by the artisans.


      A collection of Bidri articles form a part of the dowry of daughters in a wealthy Muslim households. These articles are collected for over a period of years- sometimes more so for their finely executed designs than their utility.


      The intricate and detailed process of making Bidriware can be divided into 4 stages. These are as follows-
      1. Melting the alloy
      Each Bidri piece is cast separately from ordinary soil and made malleable with castor oil and resin. This is processed using 95% zinc and 5% copper metal which is melted at a temperature of 800F. The molten metal alloy is then poured into the mould formed. The mould is allowed to cool and the object is removed. Since the surface of a newly cast piece is rough, it is made smooth with filing and buffering.
      2. Casting
      The article is then rubbed with copper sulphate solution to obtain a temporary black coating onto which the designs are etched. All the designs are drawn by free hand on the matt black surface with the sharp metal tool called the ‘stylus.’
      3. Engraving and Inlaying
      The Bidri article is then firmly fixed on a waxed stone and held in a way that allows for engraving designs on the article using small chisels. Pure silver is converted into fine flat wires and hammered or inlaid carefully into these chiselled grooves. Silver metal sheets also inlaid if the design motif dimensions are wide. Generally, geometrical designs are created with a silver wire wherein the floral arabesques and intricate leaf patterns are designed with silver metal sheet. After the inlaid work is complete, the article is filed rigorously to obtain a smoother surface.
      4. Oxidizing
      This is the last stage of the Bidriware process wherein the surface is permanently made black so that the silver inlay design stands out in bright contrast against the dark background. A particular type of soil found in the inner depths of ruins in Bidri fort- which is 300-400 years old and has had neither any exposure to sun or rain- is used in this process. This soil when mixed with ammonium chloride and water produces a very special solution. This solution is boiled at an accurate temperature and the bidri article is dipped in this solution. The solution has a special oxidizing property which when reacted with the alloy, darkens the body of product but has no effect on the inlayed silver wires. The article is then rinsed off in normal water leaving the silver shinning against the black surface. Finally oil is rubbed on the piece to deepen the black matt coating.


      Cluster Name: Bidar


      The simple lives of the people living in Bidar, their agrarian lifestyle and their jubilant spirit is glamorized with the production of the starry like Bidriware. The culture of this region is extremely warm, welcoming and contains within itself the capacity to invoke a sense of belongingness even in a passerby. This region has a glorified past and at present, continues to be one of the most popular town areas in Karnataka. Through constant government initiatives and private facilities, this region presents itself as a harmony between the modern and the traditional.

      District / State
      Bidar / Karnataka
      Kannada, Urdu, Telugu, Hindi, English
      Best time to visit
      Any time
      Stay at

      How to reach
      Bidar is not well connected to other major cities of the country by Bus & Train. The nearest airport is in Hyderabad at a distance of 112 km.
      Local travel
      Auto, Walkable Distance
      Must eat
      South Indian delicacies and delectable local snacks


      The recorded history of the city goes back to the 3rd century when it was a part of the Mauryan Empire. After the Mauryas, different dynasties such as the Satavahanas, Kadambas, Chalukyas of Badami, and later the Rashtrakutas reigned over the Bidar territory.

      The Delhi Sultanate invaded the area first under  Allauddin Khilji, and later, Muhammed-bin-Tughluq took control of entire Deccan including Bidar. In the middle of the 14th century, the Sultan of Delhi's officers that were stationed in Deccan rebelled and this resulted in the establishment of Bahmanid Dynasty in 1347 A.D. at Gulbarga/Hasanabad (present Kalaburagi). However,  there was frequent warfare between the Bahmanids and the Vijaynagar Kingdom.

      The history of the Bidar fort is attributed to Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah, the first sultan of the Bahmani dynasty who ruled till 1427. He shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar since it had better climatic conditions and a fertile and fruit-bearing land. The earliest recorded history of its existence as a small and strong fort can also be traced to prince Ulugh Khan in 1322, whereafter it came under the reign of the Tughlaq dynasty. With the establishment of the Bahmanid dynasty, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah Bahmani. During the rule of Ahmad Shah I (1422–1486), Bidar was made the capital city of Bahmani Kingdom. The old fort was rebuilt and madrasas, mosques, palaces, and gardens were raised.

      Mahmud Gawan, who became the Prime Minister in 1466, was a notable figure in the history of Bidar. Bidar remained under the Barid Shahi dynasty until conquest by the Bijapur Sultanate in 1619. Aurangzeb came to Bidar after his father, Shah Jahan, appointed him the Prince of Deccan. He wrested the Bidar Fort from the Adil Shahis after a 21-day war in 1656. With this, Bidar became a part of the Mughal dynasty for the second time. Moreover, Bidar was made a subah (imperial top-level province) in 1656.

      In 1724, Bidar became a part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams. After India's independence, in 1956 all Kannada speaking areas were merged to form the Mysore State and Bidar became part of the new Mysore (now Karnataka) state.


      The trans-peninsular commercial corridor was rich in agricultural and mineral resources like red ochre, bauxite, building stone, quartz and laterite stone that meant kingdoms continued many attempts to annex and rule over the state that led to multifaceted cultural influences and a rich
      heritage of handcrafted goods.
      Bidar is a city, found in the northeast of India in the state of Karnataka. Situated about 700 meters above sea level on the Deccan Plateau and 100 kilometers from Hyderabad, a city in Telangana, Bidar is known to have some of the finest and most ravishing examples of Muslim architecture. The entire district originated next to a live volcano and so most of the empty grounds and sites of the city are made of solidified lava. Unlike other places in the region, Bidar is the coldest and wettest place in north Karnataka.
      The two commonly found types of soils found in the district are Laterite red soil and black cotton soil. Bidar district falls right under the Godavari basin and Krishna basin and has a forest cover of 2.56% and so the city is not known to face any major environmental issues.


      Identified as the city of pulses of Karnataka, its famous red soil is perfect for cultivation of sugarcane,jawar, bajra, pulses, ginger, sunflower and soybean. Every year more than 3% of the state’s agricultural sector is held by Bidar and an immense growth and potential is seen.

      The weather in Bidar is generally pleasant throughout the year. The winter season in Bidar is from November to middle of February. This town is known to be is one of the coldest in Karnataka since the minimum temperature during winter nights is around 11-12 Celsius. December is the coldest month here. From the middle of February, both day and night temperatures begin to rise rapidly. May is claimed to be the hottest month with mean daily maximum temperature of 38.8 C and mean daily minimum of 25.9 C. With the withdrawal of southwest monsoon in the first week of October, there is slight increase in day temperature but night temperature decreases steadily. After October, both day and night temperatures decreases progressively. The highest maximum temperature recorded at Bidar was 43.3 degree Celsius and the lowest minimum was 2.9-degree Celsius.


      Agriculture, construction and mining industries are the primary economic contributors of the city along with the rich tourism and handicraft sector. Hyderabad airport is located 134 km away from the city that also has access to 3 domestic airports. It is well connected by prominent railway lines and national highways. Closest seaports are Mumbai (NH9 connects Bidar and Maharashtra) and Goa.

      The district has excellent social infrastructure, with a high number of educational institutions and healthcare facilities. Bidar has noteworthy higher educational institutions including a University of Veterinary Sciences and Horticulture Studies. Skilled resources, especially for the agricultural sector, are provided by these institutions. There are opportunities for more technical institutions to be set up soon with advancements already being made with solar powered energy resources.


      The main attraction of Bidar is the fort ; Bidar fort is more than 500 years old and holds its shape and stands strong till date. Another commonly recognised name for this beautiful city is “The City Of Whispering Monuments”.
      This is because the book “Bidar Heritage” states that out of all Museums and Heritage, of the 61 monuments listed by the department, about 30 are tombs located in and around Bidar city. Most of these monuments can be seen in countless films of Bollywood and the Kannada film industry
      in recent years.
      There is an inter-mixture of Hindu, Turkish and Persian artisan ship and most of the crafts originating from Bidar consist of designs and decorative patterns seen in the monuments of the city. Star shaped plans, pillared porches and halls, high plinths and receding spirals are noticeable throughout the archaeological architecture seen across the city.

      Openings of corridors are usually in post and lintel style with flat ceilings as arched styles were unknown to craftsmen at the time. Lime and mortar were scarcely used with laterite stones given more importance as seen in most examples like the Bidar fort itself. Excavated foundations gave little to no information to their masonry and technological advancements on
      how manual labour was practised to move such large solid blocks of stone.
      Vertical sculptures with horizontal bands of carvings at intervals breaks the monotony and creates an interesting play of light and shadow peculiar to the region.


      The culture of Bidar is as colourful and vibrant as the people residing there.

      Since Bidar City is the headquarter of the Bidar district of Karnataka, Kannada is the official language of Bidar. However, due to its proximity to Maharashtra, people in Bidar also speak Marathi. Since Bidar was once ruled by the Mughals, the Bidar locals are fluently conversant in Urdu also.

      Bidar celebrates many festivals that reflect the rich culture and heritage of this historic city. Veerabhadreshwara Jatra is an annual seven-day long festival, which is celebrated between January and February. A large number of pilgrims and tourists participate in this festival where they pull carts or take walks to the auspicious Veerbhadra temple of Lord Shiva in Humnabad. The citizens of Bidar also celebrate Bidar Utsav at the Bidar Fort wherein many modern and traditional modes of celebration including physical and cultural activities such as film festival, kite festival, wrestling, etc can be seen. Moreover, the local eateries serve an array of mouth-watering and lip-smakcing multi-cuisines.


      Famous For:

      Bidar is home to one of the most formidable forts in the country, The Bidar fort with 5 large gateway entries into the city fort that holds the soil with a specific chemical composition used by artisans to develop a lustrous black shine to their bidriware. Other than the city fort the Bidar Gurudwara is of high religious significance as Guru nanak Dev visited the site cementing its position as an important pilgrimage site for Sikhs across the country.

      Other sites of archaeological and religious importance as the city promises is the Zanana Masjid that is one of the largest mosques in the country with 16 towering pillars in the hall. The Narasimha Jharna is a cave temple with water up to chest level of pilgrims as they devotedly wade through to pay their respects to the deity.


      List of craftsmen.

      Documentation by:

      Team Gaatha

      Process Reference:


      Cluster Reference: