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Bidriware mementos for delegates at Kannada Sahitya Sammelan

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AWARD FOR AN ARTISAN: A file picture of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting the national award to Bidriware artisan Mohammad Moijuddin in New Delhi.
AWARD FOR AN ARTISAN: A file picture of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam presenting the national award to Bidriware artisan Mohammad Moijuddin in New Delhi.

Staff Correspondent

Parishat's bid to encourage artisans of 800-year-old art in Bidar district

Bidar: Bidri art has made the name of this sleepy mountain town famous across seven seas. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat has recognised the timeless quality of this 800-year-old art by deciding to present Bidriware items as mementos to the delegates at the 72nd Kannada Sahitya Sammelana.

Bidriware is an important handicraft exported out of India. Collecting these items is a status symbol among the rich and famous. They contain patterns made of zinc and copper and inlaid with pure silver wire or thin sheets. The craftsmanship and skilled labour involved in creating Bidriware are priceless.

An essential ingredient of Bidri articles is the soil from the floor of ancient buildings and forts. This soil, which has not received rain or sunlight for centuries, has chemicals that give a lustrous black colour to Bidriware. Artisans use such soil from inner areas of the Bidar fort. That is one reason why Bidriware cannot be produced on a large scale.

Despite developing eyesight problems early in life, they complain the artisans of Bidri art are not well paid for their effort. Making Bidriware is no longer remunerative. "Our children are not joining our trade. We are afraid that in less than two decades, there will be no Bidri artisans left in Bidar," says award-winning craftsman Ahmed Quadri. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) started the Bidriware Cluster Development Programme in 2002. As part of the programme, 15 self-help groups (SHGs) of artisans have been formed.

A federation of these SHGs has been formed. The Krishna Grameena Bank has given loans to all these groups.

Artisans have been issued Artisan Credit Cards and covered under Janashree Bima insurance scheme. The faculty of the National Institute of Design have trained artisans. Artisans have been given exposure in national and international exhibitions.

All these efforts seemed to be bearing fruit. Bidriware cluster SHG members have been regularly attending national-level competition and exhibition.

Bidar artisans have bagged the national award for outstanding artisans, consecutively for 2003 and 2004. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam recently presented the awards to Mohammad Moijuddin and Abdul Rao for these two years.

NABARD is putting up a stall for the exhibition-cum-sale of Bidriware at the Kannada Sahitya Sammelan. Bidri artisans will set up their workshop there and produce the articles in front of the visitors.

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