The Secret of Deccan’s 600-YO Bidri Art Is a Unique Soil

Bidri art

Here is how the centuries-old Bidri art made its way through Persian sultans to India, and how it continues to mesmerise connoisseurs today.

When one thinks of intricately engraved silver over black metal, our mind moves to royal art —  Bidri. A 600-year-old art form from the Deccan region, its secret is said to be buried in the soil of the Bidar Fort in Karnataka.

Bidri art is said to have originated in the 14th century during the reign of the Bahmani sultans. The Persian sultans ruled in Bidar and brought the art here. Reports state that the Persians practised the art at night to earn an income. 

The entire Deccan was enamoured by this art, and it spread from Karnataka to present-day Hyderabad. As the Hyderabadi Nizams liked the art, they invited these artists to their city, which is where the artists are present today. 

Sheik Omer Bin Ahmed Mujaheed, the owner of Gulistan Bidri Works, told The News Minute, “My grandfather originally belonged to Bidar and as the art caught the fancy of the Nizam in Hyderabad, the Sultan called him to the city and ordered that he work for the state. Enjoying the royal patronage, a lot of Bidri workers migrated from Karnataka and set up their units in Hyderabad.” 

“Buildings were given off for free and there was a constant demand for the art from the royalty. At one point, the city teemed with so many artisans that they had formed a society of their own called ‘Gulistan’.” 

Bidriware requires a lot of skill and time, and uses this ‘secret soil’ to create intricate works of art. 

Watch how this art is made:  

‘The decline of Bidriware: How a 14th century Persian handicraft is dying in Hyderabad’ by Priyanka Richi for The News Minute, Published on 29 June 2019