4483

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Silver Bidri Flask or Vase

Bidar, India
late 19th century

height: 30cm, weight: 1,882g

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Provenance

UK art market

This tall, very decorative flask has been decorated using the bidri technique – although rather than the design and motifs being inlaid in silver, the reverse is true, whereby the pattern has been cut out of silver sheet and then what is left has been inlaid into the vessel, so that the pattern in apparent as dark rather than light-coloured silver fields.

It sits on a low, flared, ring foot; has a spherical bod, and a tall thin neck.

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 with silver, brass and sometimes gold. A paste that contains sal ammoniac is then applied which turns the ally dark black but leaving the

silver, brass and gold 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.

The example here is in excellent condition.

References

Mittal, J., Bidri Ware and Damascene Work: in Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum or Art, 2011.

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