|Bidri huqqa-base with matching tray
India, Hyderabad, 19th century
A bell-shaped iron huqqa-base, inlaid in silver with intricate poppy motifs, contained within oval medallions. The separate, matching tray is supported on four feet, the rim is inlaid with a similar floral meander.
Bidri is the art of inlaying silver and copper on black metal. The black colour is the result of heating the surfaces of zinc and copper alloy castings gently and applying sal ammoniac. The four main stages in the manufacture of bidri are casting, engraving, inlaying and oxidising. Comparable huqqa-bases can be found in the National Museum Delhi 1, and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2.