Of all the
handicrafts of Odisha the most unique and the finest, in fact the
queen among them, is silver filigree, locally called tarakasi.
The craft is localised at Cuttack town and a few villages in Cuttack
district. The process consists of drawing silver through a series of
consecutively smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire. These
wires are then made into various shapes by deft hands of the
craftsmen by bending them into different designs and soldering them
with pincer and scissors.Silver used by the artisans is usually of
high purity often exceeding ninety per cent.
manufactured cover a wide range though they can be broadly divided into a few categories.
First, we have the ornaments for the ladies which include necklaces, brooches, ear
pendants, anklets, hair pins, decorative key rings and bangles etc. We also have a few
ornamental items for men like tie pins and cufflinks. Next we have the decorative items
like boats or boita, replicas of temples, horses, elephants and other animals and
chariots besides a variety of other items. Lastly, we have utility items like plates,
cups, bowls, glasses mascara containers, indigenous spoon called belas for
feeding milk to young children, incense containers, vermilion containers and ladies
handbags. Though the above lists are fairly comprehensive they do not indicate the myriad
varieties one can find for each item.
filigree and other silver items have, like other handicrafts, a very important
socio-cultural function. The child's first solid food, usually a sweet dish of rice,
kheer, is served in a silver bowl and the elder specially grand-parents take pride in
presenting the silver bowl for this function known as anna prasana. Like brass and bell
metal items the bride is also usually presented a set of silver dishes which is reserved
for offering food to the deities during religious festivals. Many temples have a set of
silver ornaments for the presiding deities including silver crowns which are used on
ceremonial occasions. Silver filigree has been an important export items of
ancient times and has been a symbol of the dizzy heights of excellence reached by