Filigree Work, the Elegant Art of Odisha

Silver Filigree, locally it is also known as tarakasi. Cuttack and few of its villages are well known for this craft. The process consists of making silver ornaments from fine strands of wire. Filigree works are the example of the Odisha art. In Filigree Work Silver wires are shaped into complex designs like in the forms of animals and birds.

Durga Puja’ festival in Cuttack is not only famous for the status of ‘Shakti Pitha’ but also for the silver ornamentation of the Durga Pandals.

Origin of Filigree Work

There is no witness that how and when the filigree work started in Odisha. But ancient people say that the art form was indulged during the Mughals. Now-a-days artisans are using machines to make the silver filigree items. But craftsmen in Cuttack are still following traditional method of melting silver, converting it into thin strands and then magically weaving the wires into the most intricate design is done by hand.

Process Involved in Filigree Work

For Filigree work pure silver or 90% alloy of silver is used.  In this process first, the ore of silver is placed into a small clay pot and the two are put into a bucket full of hot coals. The melting process takes place and then the silver is poured into a small, rod-like mold and then the rod is immersed in water to make it cool. Then this rod is placed into a machine which will make it thin wire. This process is done by the men by hand.

After the silver is converted into thin flat wire, the artists carve the designs. This process makes it easier for the artisan to mold the wire into the desired. Next the wires twisted and shaped into a design by the artist’s fingers. Then the next process is soldering. In soldering the designed piece is placed into a mixture of borax powder and water, then sprinkling soldering powder on it, and then placing it once again under the small flame

After soldering is done, the artist will take the warm piece and shape it into an ornament. Then the granulation, snow glazing and casting are used innovatively to make it attractive.

Instruments Used In Filigree Work

Tongs, cutter, hammer, hollow pipe, die for silver balls,  small tongs, platform, small hammer, metal knife, earthenware pot, pair of tongs, earthen stove and  oil container are the tools used for this work.