Lucknow has always been the nexus of culture and art, weaving an intricate heritage of exquisite culture, cuisine, craft and arts. Be it the fine yarns of Chikankari or the nuanced Mughlai spices, the city is an epicentre of exquisite skill and labour, and the Zarbuland work is no exception. An extension of Karnataka's 'Bidri' work, this metal craft was galvanised to perfection during the era of the Nawabs, embossing the city's legacy, through the years.
Tracing the grooves of Zarbuland metal craft
Zarbuland work, a modification of Bidriware, was widely inherited in the Lucknow of yore and it still finds its place in the contemporary world, as a token of the Nawabi heritage. Etched on classic cutlery, showpieces and other artefacts, this compound metal artwork is born out of a painstakingly tedious procedure, which is proof that patience reaps the sweetest fruits. The Zarbuland craft can be best defined as the skill to create dainty marvels out of sturdy metals, which are the epitome of sheen, shine and splendour.
Much like 'bidri', it involves moulding, polishing, carving, engraving and darkening of metals, spruced by the Nawabi touch - that makes all the difference. Unlike other forms of repoussé or metal arts, the Zarbuland designs are embossed over the surface of the metal, by the presence of ridges on the subject, usually silver. Its close-knit detailing and intricate mesh make it an integral part of the city's art and craft culture and community, immortalising the Nawabi glitter, with a flourish.
Wildly popular among tourists and locals alike, Zarbuland designs can today be found on trays, bowls, hookah bases (Huqqah Farshi), jewel boxes, cigarette holders and many other decorative articles as well, feeding a whole community of craftsmen even today.
Zarbuland on silver is an aristocratic symbol of class and sophistication in Lucknow and while it still holds a decent grip over lovers of authenticity, it requires all the recognition for surviving the tides of time. So, when in Lucknow, dwell deeper into the narrow lanes of the city and unravel the glitter of the city's imperial identity.