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Silver-Inlaid Bidri Betel Tray Set (Pandan)

Deccan, India
18th century

diameter of tray: 22.7cm, weight: 3,013g



UK art market

This bidri pandan set comprises nine separate boxes with lids or covers and a circular matching tray. It might also have been used a s a spice box set (masaladan). It is heavy, weight just over three kilograms.

The cruciform arrangement of the nine boxes is very unusual – we have not seen a set like this before, published or otherwise.

The set is decorated with panels of stylised poppy flowers and foliage, all rendered in silver.

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 set in fine condition with relatively few losses to the silver inlay. It has not been over-cleaned. It is remarkable that all of the boxes and lids are present and that none have been lost.


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

Stronge, S.,Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India,Victoria & Albert Museum, 1985.

Zebrowski, M.,Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.

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