Silver Filigree

Filigree (filigree or filigrann or filigrane) is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork made with twisted threads usually of gold and silver. The English word filigree derives from Latin "filum" meaning thread and "granum" grain, in the sense of small bead. The filigree craft was advanced to its highest perfection by the Greeks and Etruscans from the 6th to 3rd centuries BC, both in design and form, and at some point in time, cross-cultural influence led to the craft reaching the shores of the Indian Sub-Continent.

Silver Filigree locally is also known as tarakasi. Cuttack and a few of its villages are well known for this craft. The process consists of making silver ornaments from fine strands of wire. Filigree's works are an example of Odisha art. In Filigree Work Silver wires are shaped into complex designs like in the forms of animals and birds. Cuttack, the 'Silver City of India', is famous for its centuries-old Chandi Tarakasi, the craft of silver filigree. The craft is believed to have been introduced in Odisha when the Mughals established their rule in India. Nowadays artisans are using machines to make silver filigree items. But craftsmen in Cuttack are still following the traditional method of smelting silver, converting it into thin strands and then magically weaving the wires into the most intricate design done by hand.

For Filigree's work, pure silver or 90% alloy of silver is used. Initially, Hand-drawn sketches of the designs are made. The process starts with the heating of raw silver and converting them into a silver rod. The rod is then passed through a Wire-drawing machine, cross-section of silver rods is pulled to extend the length and reduce the cross-section. The size of the wire is based on the product being made. Thereafter, Thin wires are pressed using manual tools to make them straight. Thick wires are used to make the outer frame or rib of the product. After preparing, the frame is matched with the reference sketch to check its correctness of size and shape. Thenceforth, The frame is soldered and cooled in plain water. Thin wires are rolled or folded or twisted using a pair of tweezers, depending on the design, and fitted inside the interspaces within the frame to complete the design. The design is then hammered to make it flat and uniform. Silver dust and borax powder is sprinkled on the piece before soldering. The finished piece is heated and cooled. The final touches of filing, polishing, and finishing are done to attain lustre.

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