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1. A superb Bidri Tray decorated with Irises. Published: Zebrowski, p255, no.435.
Bidar, Deccan, India.
Early 18th century.
Bidri inlayed with silver.
D33cm
A superb Bidri Tray decorated with Irises. Published: Zebrowski, p255, no.435.

Trays, or sinis, were part of “smoking sets”, on which the huqqa and respective ring would rest. They were also possibly used on their own to serve food or drink (Zebrowski). Bidri trays again show great elegance and a sense of harmony in their composition and play of light and darkness. They used either floral or geometric decoration, and their shape was usually round, octagonal or in the shape of flowers.

The present tray, from the early 18th century, is an elegant example of a flower-shaped Bidri tray inlayed with silver, with the particularity of sitting on eight feet. It combines geometric elements in its centre with several floral motifs that enrich the composition. Twelve large irises surround the central circle, while twice as many smaller flowers populate the petal-shaped raised edges of the tray. Separating the two floral rows, there is an additional geometric decorative band. The use of irises to decorate the tray creates a direct link with Deccani painting of this period, namely in the typical use of irises to decorate the borders of miniature paintings.

The fact that the silver inlays do not cover the totality of the surface of the tray creates a stark graphic effect, with silver irises radiating light against considerable areas of dark background. Combined with the perfect symmetry of the composition, there is a sense of overall harmony and dynamic balance.

The tray is published in Mark Zebrowski’s seminal book ‘Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India’, on plate no. 435.

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