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  • Making the Chandi ka Warq (silver leaf) by Beating Silver

    It is believed that the use of gold and silver in Indian delicacies dates back to ancient times. Indian confectionery stores nowadays, are full of sweets garnished generously with thin sheets of some shiny coating. This shiny coating is nothing but “chandi ka warq” or “silver foil or “silver leaf” to render them look more elegant and auspicious. They are also sometimes used to cover idols in temples in our country. The word warq is Arabic in origin and its meaning is leaf. In Sanskrit and Ayurvedic medical literature, varaka or warq word is used to address a cloth, cloak or a thing that covers something. Scientifically, silver acts as a potent anti-bacterial and anti fungal agent and coating food products with silver increases their freshness and shelf life.

    Image Credit - picsart Image Credit - picsart

    Luck now, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh is known for making chandi ka warq. Because of the demand in Mughlai cuisine, Luck now has emerged as a major warq producing center in the country. Apart from covering sweets and desserts, silver leaves are used to cover food items like kebabs, phirni, betels, chavanprash, sewain, cardamoms, spices and dry fruits.

    Image Credit - siasat Image Credit - siasat

    The process of making these intricate silver leaves or chandi ka warq is little difficult and require great skill. Warq is made by constant beating or hammering silver into sheets, which typically are 0.2-0.8 µm thick, laid inside a leather pouch placed over granite stone They are then backed with paper for support which is peeled away before use. Approximately 165 layers of silver strips are placed between layers of leather (usually ox gut) and hammered for more than six to eight hours to produce silver leaves. Silver leaf or chandi ka warq is very fragile and breaks into smaller pieces (due to close inter atomic distance of silver metal), if not handled properly. The craft of making chandi ka warq involves a lot of precision and perfect coordination between hand and eyes during hammering. The art seems to have been passed down the generations. The people involved in this art are known as karigars, who never seem to lose the zest and passion in making these delicate silver leaves, albeit the soaring price of silver. This determination renders the art of making silver leaf so treasured and very much in demand everywhere.

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