Silver Filigree Work Of Odisha
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Silver Filigree Work Of Odisha

This article is about the ancient art of filigree, practiced for thousands of years in the Indian state of Odisha.

Filigree is an ancient and renowned art of designing jewelry and decorative items with finely drawn metal wires. It is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt and spread to Asia in and around 2500 BC. The similar patterns and processes in Indian and Greek filigree works suggest common origin or influence.

Silver filigree or "Tarakashi", as it is known in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, is the most delicate and exquisite rendition of Silver handicraft. This work involves beating and drawing pure silver metal into fine and thin wires, which are then crafted together to form elegant patterns. Apart from precious jewelry, silver filigree is also used for crafting idols of gods and goddesses, decorative animals, tableware, replicas of temples etc. Approximately 5000 kilograms of silver is consumed annually in Odisha.


Manufacturing process

Silver is one of the most malleable and ductile metals. One gram of pure silver metal can be drawn into a wire more than a kilometer long. The craftsmen work tediously with these thin silver wires to create intricate designs. To start with, the desired frame is designed using base metals. Then molten silver is molded into thin rods, which are then further beaten into fine wires. These hair thin silver wires are then carefully soldered over the outlining frame. This process demands absolute precision. Craftsmen are known to use numerous varieties of wire designs such as spirals, curls and creepers. Once the frame is covered completely, the item is heated gently to fuse the joints. Semi-precious gems are mostly used for decorating the artifacts. A final round of platinum polishing gives the items desired shine and texture.



The designs used for filigree are mostly inspired by folklores, wildlife, religion and mythology. Scenes from the famous Asian epic, Mahabharata, are the most popular picks in filigree works. The Konark Sun Temple in Odisha is another popular design, famous amongst tourists who prize it as a souvenir. Silver filigree artifacts of Hindu gods and goddesses are equally popular.

The silver filigree items have, like other handicrafts, a very important sociocultural value. A silver bowl with filigree work is often used to serve food to the new-born. Similarly, silver utensils are presented to a newly wed bride as a gesture of warm welcome. Most Indian households use intricately designed silver wares for religious ceremonies.

This fine art has been an integral and coveted part of the Indian culture from ancient times. It flourished under the patronage of the kings, but seems to be losing its charm with the passing years. For thousands of years, this art has mostly been practiced by the families dedicated to filigree. Now-a-days, modern institutions, in an effort to preserve this art, are trying to attract students by offering professional courses on silver and gold filigree.

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Comments (1)

Beautifully described with such detail. thank you for the education.Promoted since I am out of votes.