Bidri Silver-Inlaid Water Bottle (Surahi)
height: 33cm, weight: 2.02kg
This unusually tall Bridri water flask or surahi is in excellent condition with relatively little loss of silver inlay. The tall neck is decorated with multiple bands of stylised flowers and foliage. The shoulder has a broad sweep of lotus petals, and the bulbous base has further bands of stylised flowers and foliage motifs. The low ring foot is decorated with a single band of stylised petals.
Lal (1990, p. 88) shows a
surahi of similar form and decoration in the National Museum collection, New Delhi.
Bidriware is believed to have originated in the city of Bidar in the Deccan. It is cast from an alloy of mostly zinc with copper, tin and lead. The vessels are overlaid or inlaid usually with silver. A paste that contains sal ammoniac is then applied which turns the ally dark black but leaving the silver unaffected.
Bidriware caused great interest at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. It found new European markets and helped to keep alive the craft as demand fell in India with the decline of many of the smaller courts and landed families.
Lal, K., Bidri Ware: National Museum Collection, National Museum New Delhi, 1990.
Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1985.
Acquired from the UK antiques market and most probably has been in the UK since the colonial period.
Inventory no.: 800