The finesse of filigree

odisha art

The finesse of filigree

The women of Odisha are known for their love for silver jewellery, which includes solid and carved bracelets, waistbands and armlets, as well as the exquisitely-carved lace tarakashi, or filigree. This is because of the fine filigree produced in the city of Cuttack, famous as the ‘Silver City of Odisha’.

Here, a bride’s trousseau is incomplete without the traditional ornaments — a small eye-shaped kohl container, and a tiny silver chest for her mother-in-law to store betel nuts. A married woman traditionally wears silver anklets and toe rings. A newborn is gifted with a silver glass bowl and spoon. The tarakashi is used on all auspicious occasions in Odisha’s households.

This art form, which is more than 500 years old, is generally taken up by artisans on the eastern shores of Odisha.

The technique to craft the jewellery is this — a lump of silver is melted and poured into a small rod-like mould, and cooled. The rod is then placed into a machine that presses it into a long, thin wire. Once the silver is pressed into a workable wire, it can be hand-carved, or be immediately smoldered by a small kerosene fire, with the artist directing the small flame using a hollow tube through which he blows air. The wires are then shaped into designs.

During Durga Puja, Cuttack showcases its silvery filigree skills to the maximum. There are at least seven images of Goddess Durga decorated with this kind of jewellery.

Silver boxes, statues, Konark wheels, ships, specimens of Odisha’s maritime history, and idols of Lord Jagannath   are the most popular silver products at the numerous silver shops in the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. The prices of these products depend upon their weight.


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