Orissa, the land rooted in customs, traditions and folklore, is a home to many handicrafts and art forms such as Patachitra, appliqué work, terracotta, brass work and not the least among them is the silver filigree work of Cuttack, popularly known as Tarakashi. The art is ancient, and dates back to the dawns of early history. A tinkling of anklets, a glimmer of silvery light; a shimmering artifact, with a sheen of purity, this delicate craft is especially renowned for its unparalleled intricacy.
The works in Tarakashi are a combination of beauty and utility. Like all other crafts, Tarakashi is gloriously alive to and caters to modern tastes while retaining all essential traditional past. Forms of animals, birds, flowers and even miniature handbags and other souvenirs are made. The Konark Chakra and temple are great favorites as mementos. Scenes from the Mahabharata, depicting the chariot of Arjuna driven by Lord Krishna, are quite popular.
Procedure of making Tarakashi Designs
The artists work with an alloy of 90% or more pure silver. Silver is beaten and then drawn into fine wires and foils. The wires are then made finer by drawing silver through a series of consecutively smaller holes to produce finer strands. Then the wires are twisted into various shapes by binding them into different designs and soldering them with pincers and scissors specially made for the purpose. The end results are articles and ornaments of eternal beauty. Techniques such as granulation, snow glazing and casting are also used innovatively to heighten the effect. Platinum polishing is done to give a more lasting shine whereas fusion of silver and brass or other materials is done to create some rather interesting effects.
The filigree jewelery is particularly rich in patterns. The arm jewelry, necklaces, toe rings and especially anklets are popular among the people. Various kinds of intricate anklets, combining use of semi-precious stones are greatly preferred. Vermillion boxes, brooches, pendants, earrings and hairpins are also in great demand among the people.