History of Silver Filigree
Silver filigree is a highly skilled art form which originated more than 500 years ago mainly practiced traditionally by the local artisans belonging to the eastern shores of Odisha. The workmanship of silver filigree in Odisha bears stark resemblance with that of Indonesia for which it has been predicted that the art arrived in Odisha through trade links with Indonesia.
Procedure of Making Silver Filigree
The process of creating the filigrees is interesting. The ingots are beaten on an anvil and elongated into long wire by passing them through a steel plate with apertures of different wire gauges. Each filigree jewellery piece actually combines several component parts. Two or three wires are wound together after heating and then bent into various shapes to get the patterns. The space within the frame is filled with the main ribs of the pattern, which is usually a creeper or flower, forming itself into small frames of circles, flower petals, and the like. The silver jewellery made in Odisha twists silver wire as the base material; the articles have a lacy, trellis-like appearance which gives them a rare charm.
Silver Filigree Artefacts of Odisha
Items manufactured cover a wide range though they can be broadly divided into a few categories. The ornaments for the ladies that include necklaces, brooches, ear pendants, anklets, hair pins, decorative key rings and bangles etc. have a unique elegance. There are also a few ornamental items for men like tie pins and cufflinks. The second type of ornaments that are made comprise the decorative items like boats or boita, replicas of temples, horses, elephants and other animals and chariots besides a variety of other items. Lastly, many utility items like plates, cups, bowls, glass mascara containers, indigenous spoon called belas for feeding milk to young children, incense containers, vermilion containers and ladies handbags are also made.
Silver Filigree in Indian Culture
The silver filigree and other silver items have a very important socio-cultural significance. The child's first solid food during the ritual of 'anna prasana' is served in a silver bowl. 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 item of Odisha from ancient times and has been a symbol of the dizzy heights of excellence reached by Odisha's craftsmen.