‘Tarakasi’ an exquisite art heritage of Cuttack


‘Cuttack’, one of the major cities in the state of Odisha is well-known for many a good reasons. People who visit the delta land, remember for years what it imprints in their mind- the serenity of river Mahanadi and Kathajori, the great Mahanadi bridge, Chandi temple, road side delicacies like Dahibara Aloodum, gupchup and chat, the Barabati stadium and fort, festivals like Durgapuja, Baliyatra and Kartika purnima and above all the exquisite art and crafts in brass, ivory and silver and finest textiles of silk and cotton. Above so many good reasons of cherishing for Cuttack, is its unique silver filigree work or ‘Tarakasi’ which makes the city popularly known as ‘Silver City’. 

‘Cuttack’ city has a great cultural and aesthetical background. Since the time of yore, this city has been witnessing interlocking of many cultures which has in turn influenced, refined and enriched its own art forms. It is believed that the silver filigree got the status of an established form of craft in Cuttack during the time of Mughal rule. The elaborate decorations and fine motifs seen in silver filigree work in Cuttack is greatly influenced by Mughal form of art. Cuttack in the time of yore was engaged in maritime trade with several foreign lands including Java, Sumatra and Bali which are presently parts of Indonesia. It is also believed that the fine silver filigree art heritage of Cuttack could have its links with Indonesian art form due to good trade links. 

The craftsmen who usually practice this art work as their profession are mostly from the goldsmith community of Odisha. They work with an alloy of 90% or more of pure silver. The lump of silver is placed into a small clay pot which is kept in a bucket full of blistering coals. The temperature is regulated through a bellow which is manually operated by a crank. When it gets melted the liquid alloy is poured into a small rod like mould which is placed in cold water to harden the frame. The wires when hardened are molded to various flat or thin shapes to make designs. Thick silver wires are used as frame in which small and tiny wires are put being molded to various shapes. Soldering is done by placing the piece into a mixture of borax powder and water, sprinkling soldering powder onto it and then placing it once again under the small flame so that the detail of the design stays intact and durable. Techniques such as granulation, snow glazing and casting are 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 whole work process in this exquisite art form is all manual. The tools used for this work are namely Chimta – tongs, Katuri – cutter, Hatudi – hammer, Bakunari – hollow pipe, Kansuli – die for silver balls, Jantil / Kitkira /Dhalla – types of dyes, Seardi – small tongs, Lehi – platform, Madhia – small hammer, Moskala – metal knife, Ghadia – earthenware pot, Sandosi – pair of tongs, Chulla – earthen stove and Dibidi – oil container 

The artisans prepare various intricate designs of jewelry and decorative figures like idols of Gods, animals, birds, flowers, replica of Konark wheel and Taj Mahal. Household decorative items and even miniature handbags are prepared in tarakashi work. Besides intricate designs of anklets, toe rings, vermillion boxes, brooches, pendants, earrings, hairpins and other jewelries are found in Cuttack filigree showrooms which are highly liked and demanded by women. All the ornaments worn by Odissi dances are exclusively prepared in Tarakasi work. These Ornaments adorn the head, ear, neck, hands, fingers and waist of the dancer. The ornaments include a choker, ‘padaka-tilaka’ (a long necklace) , ‘bahichudi’ or ‘tayila’ (armlets), ‘kankana’(bracelets), a belt, anklets, bells, ‘kapa’ (earrings) and a ‘seenthi’ (ornament work on the hair and forehead). These ornaments are embellished with natural un-cut stones lined with silver and gold. 

‘Durga Puja’ or Dussera festival in Cuttack is very much famous not only due to the city’s status of being a ‘Shakti Pitha’ for the presence of Mother Chandi but also for the ‘Chandi Medha’ or silver ornamentation of the Durga Pandals (fabricated structures). The popular Durga Pandals use 100 Kg to 600 Kg pure silver to prepare the silver decorations for the Durga idols. This wonderful art and heritage makes Cuttack a unique city all over the world. Silver filigree art has been and will be the best measure of Odisha’s excellent craftsmanship and artistry for times to come. 




Hi. Very happy to read this. Can you please help me by sharing contact of some karigar. I want to order customised jeweleries for myself.
Mail ID:panigrahi_kukly@yahoo.com

Iam promoting Indian handicrafts in different countries so I want some designs for ministry and for foreign clients 8800227517 8810298565

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