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Silver is one of the oldest metals used by man, the brilliant white shining metal comes second to gold in preciousness. Silver ornaments, silverware, religious and decorative figures and utility objects are few products of silver. Indians always had a fascination for items such as jewellery, urns and figures of deities in silver is manifest in places museums, private collections and even in ordinary Indian homes.
Belgaum is one of the business headquarters’ in north-Karnataka, with many ancient crafts since centuries. Silver sheet embossing is one such craft promoted during 15th century. Generally, copper is added to silver (7.5 % of copper is added to 92.5 % of silver) to increase strength and rigidity and to produce sterling, which is used in jewelries.
The shaping of metal was a secret ritual and the blacksmith’s forge was sacrosanct. Indian craftsmen treated their tools and ornaments as gods, venerating them before starting a new day of work. The tools were dedicated to lord Vishvakarma. The princely families of India commissioned artisans to make silver and studded with gems.
Various techniques, including round carving, etching, encrustation, filigree and repousse were used in the creation of silver objects. The plain surfaces of these items were carved, sometimes accompanied by surface ornamentation, such as enameling, Bidri and swamy (local name) work, to add value to the object, depending on the tastes of the clients.
Creating an impression of some design or patterns on surface like paper, cloth, metal and even on leather is called Embossing. Metal embossing is traditionally done by pushing into the foil from the reverse and then turning it over and viewing it as a raised design on the front.