Cuttack, the Millennium city of Odisha, has added many feathers to its cap, the most important being the silver filigree work. Regionally known as “Tarakasi work”, silver filigree is Odisha’s artistic heritage and is a rich traditional craft work said to be over five hundred years old.
The silver filigree craftsmen are mainly based in Cuttack and their products are sold in shops lining Naya Sadak and Balu Bazaar. This work is known and very popular because of it’s unique quality as the products are made of 90% or more pure silver. Fine silver wires are made by melting the silver lumps through a tedius manual process and then different products are made from these fine wires.
Cuttack has been the centre of silver filigree for ages. The city is home to nearly 2,000 tarkashi artisans who had inherited the craftsmanship over generations.
Tarakashi work has gained recognition in Indian and abroad. Tourists from far and near regularly visit Cuttack to buy this unique piece of artistry that has given Cuttack the title of Silver City.
This unique art form has flourished for years in the 1,000 year old city of Cuttack. Though the art form is found in some other parts of the world as well, an artisan in the silver filigree is distinctive.
Filigree products like ornaments, showpieces, jewellery, idols of deities, gift items have a lucrative export market. Some artisans have erected replicas of the Taj Mahal and Konark temple in tarakashi. However, the artisans have been going through a hard time owing to the lack of proper policies and schemes for their development.
Origin Of Tarakasi Work:
Filigree, an ancient art of crafting jewellery with fine metal wires, is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia and Egypt and spread to Asia around the 2500 BC. Indian and Greek filigree still have similar patterns and processes to this day; perhaps an evidence of common influence.
Today, more than hundred families in Cuttack, Orissa, are engaged in this craft. Locally known here as “Cuttacki tarkasi”, the silver filigree of Orissa is world renowned for its delicate artistry and brilliant craftsmanship.
The process of making a silver filigree product is very peculiar in character; for it does not involve carving, engraving or moulding a block of metal into jewellery, rather, building the piece bit by bit, by joining hair thin silver wires.