Ethnic Jewellery of India Handicrafts of Odisha

Mastering Elegance: The Exquisite Art of Tarkasi – Silver Filigree Craftsmanship from Cuttack, Odisha

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमःॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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A write-up on Cuttack Tarkasi work below the following images of Cuttack Tarkasi

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Tarakasi is a type of silver filigree work from Cuttack, a city in Odisha in the eastern part of India.

Origin of Cuttack Tarkasi

This exquisitely intricate art form, boasting a rich history of over 500 years, has been meticulously preserved and honed by local artisans along the Eastern shores of Odisha. Today, this legacy is predominantly upheld by the skilled craftsmen of Cuttack district, where the art of silver filigree continues to thrive and captivate with its timeless elegance.

Technique of Filigree

In the intricate art of filigree, artists begin by melting over 90% pure silver in a clay pot amidst hot coals, controlled by a manually operated bellows. This meticulous process transforms silver into a thin wire, once laboriously hand-crafted, now machine-pressed. Artists skillfully carve and shape this wire, using a small flame to mold it into elegant frames. Meticulous soldering, with borax and soldering powder, ensures the design’s durability. The final ornament, enhanced by techniques like granulation, snow glazing, and casting, reflects ever-evolving consumer tastes. Innovative methods and materials, including platinum polishing and silver-brass fusion, culminate in exquisitely polished, trendsetting artifacts.


Tarakasi, a traditional craft, creates exquisite animal, bird, and flower forms, along with miniature handbags and souvenirs. Popular items include the Konark Chakra, temple mementos, and Mahabharata scenes, especially Arjuna’s chariot driven by Lord Krishna. This artistry extends to world monuments like the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, earning widespread acclaim.

In Odisha, filigree jewelry shines with intricate patterns, emphasizing armlets, necklaces, toe rings, and particularly anklets, adorned with semi-precious stones. The Bela-Kanta, a traditional ornament, is a standout piece.

Vermillion boxes, brooches, pendants, earrings, and hairpins are in high demand, with vermillion boxes being essential in Oriya marriages. Tarakasi waistbands and toe rings are integral to Oriya wedding traditions, symbolizing the rich cultural heritage.

Filigree in Odissi Dance

In the mesmerizing world of Odissi, one of India’s classical dances from Odisha, dancers are adorned with Tarakasi-crafted jewelry, a testament to exquisite craftsmanship. These ornaments, embodying grace and tradition, include a choker, the elegant ‘padaka-tilaka’ (a cascading long necklace), ‘bahichudi’ or ‘tayila’ (delicate armlets), ‘kankana’ (bracelets), a ‘mekhalaa’ (a statement belt), rhythmic anklets and bells, ‘kapa’ (intricately designed earrings), and a ‘seenthi’ (a stunning hair and forehead piece).

Each piece is meticulously embellished with natural, uncut stones, framed in silver and gold, enhancing the dancer’s movements with their luminous beauty and capturing the essence of Odissi’s rich cultural heritage.

Filigree Art During Durga Puja

Sharadiya Utsav, a revered tradition in Cuttack, traces its origins to Saint Chaitanya’s 16th-century visit. Here, the Durga idol’s first consecration with a mask pattern occurred at Binod Behari Devi Mandap.

Annually, during Durga Puja, Cuttack’s pandals showcase Durga idols adorned with exquisite Tarakasi (silver filigree) jewelry. The Chandni Chowk idol, renowned for its all-silver crown and accessories – the Chaandi Medha – is a highlight. Other notable pandals include Chauliaganj, Choudhury Bazar, Khan Nagar, Banka Bazar, and Balu Bazar.

Over 150 filigree artisans yearly craft stunning backdrops and ornaments. The tradition began at Choudhury Bazaar in 1956 with a 250 kg chandi medha. Subsequently, Sheikh Bazaar and Ranihat joined this elite group, showcasing 350 kg and 483 kg silver filigree masterpieces in 1991 and 2004, respectively. Haripur-Dolamundai raised the bar in 2005 with a 500 kg installation, and in 2006, Sheikh Bazaar unveiled a revamped 450 kg backdrop.

Cuttack’s pandals, including Chandini Chowk, Sheikh Bazaar, Alisha Bazaar, Chauliaganj, Badambadi, Ranihat, Haripur-Dolamundai, and Balu Bazaar-Binod Behari, compete annually to present the most spectacular filigree display, keeping the city’s vibrant cultural legacy alive.


In conclusion, Tarkasi, the intricate art of silver filigree from Cuttack in Odisha, stands as a shining example of India’s rich cultural heritage and unparalleled craftsmanship. This ancient technique, which transforms silver into ethereal lace-like creations, is not just a testament to the meticulous skill of the artisans but also a representation of the deep-rooted traditions that continue to enrich our contemporary lives.

As we navigate through a world increasingly dominated by mass production, the delicate art of Tarkasi reminds us of the value of handmade artistry, patience, and attention to detail. It is a craft that does more than create beautiful objects; it preserves a piece of history, tells a story of cultural identity, and offers a unique perspective on elegance and beauty.

As admirers and collectors of Tarkasi, we have a responsibility to support these artisans, ensuring that this exquisite art form continues to thrive and inspire future generations. By doing so, we contribute not only to the survival of Tarkasi but also to the broader tapestry of world arts, which is richer for its diversity and depth.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

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4 replies on “Mastering Elegance: The Exquisite Art of Tarkasi – Silver Filigree Craftsmanship from Cuttack, Odisha”

Dear Readers,

Here Lochan Gouda tell us in Odia – “I needed a silver idol of Lord Jagannath.”

I’d be happy to help Lochan with finding a silver idol of Lord Jagannath. Here are a few suggestions for sourcing a silver idol of Lord Jagannath:

1. Cuttack, Odisha
Local Artisans and Shops: Cuttack is famous for its silver filigree work (Tarakasi). Lochan can visit local shops and artisans in Cuttack to get a customized silver idol of Lord Jagannath.

Specific Places to Visit:
Nayasarak Market
Choudhury Bazar
Balu Bazar

2. Online Stores
Crafts Council of India: They often promote traditional artisans and might have listings or contacts for specific silver filigree works.

Etsy: A marketplace for handmade items where artisans might list silver idols.
Amazon India: Sometimes has listings for traditional and custom-made silver idols.

3. Contacting Artisan Cooperatives or NGOs
Artisans NGOs: Organizations that work with local craftsmen can help in getting customized idols.

Examples include:
Dastkar: An NGO working with artisans across India.
India Handmade Collective (IHC): They promote and sell crafts directly from artisans.

4. Jewelry Stores Specializing in Silver Filigree
Some well-known jewelry stores might have or be able to create silver idols of Lord Jagannath. It would be beneficial to contact them directly.

Sample Message Lochan Can Use
“Hello, I am looking for a silver idol of Lord Jagannath. Could you please assist me in sourcing one from your collection or connecting me with an artisan who can create one? Thank you.”

By exploring these options, Lochan should be able to find a beautifully crafted silver idol of Lord Jagannath.

Connecting with silver filigree artisans of Cuttack, Odisha, can be achieved through several avenues:

1. Direct Visits and Local Connections:
Visit Cuttack: Traveling to Cuttack, Odisha, and exploring the local markets where silver filigree work is sold. You can directly interact with artisans in areas known for filigree work.
Handicraft Emporiums: Visit state-run handicraft emporiums and cooperative societies that promote local artisans. They often have connections with local craftsmen.

2. Artisan Associations and Cooperatives:
Utkalika: The Odisha State Cooperative Handicrafts Corporation, known as Utkalika, promotes the crafts of Odisha and can provide information on silver filigree artisans.
Organizations: Connect with organizations like the Odisha Crafts Council, which work closely with artisans and can facilitate introductions.

3. Online Platforms:
E-commerce Platforms: Websites like Amazon, Flipkart, and other Indian handicraft-focused e-commerce platforms often list products from these artisans. Sellers’ details can sometimes be found, enabling direct contact.

Social Media: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have many artisans and collectives showcasing their work. Searching for hashtags related to Cuttack filigree or Odisha handicrafts might lead to direct connections.

4. Government and Cultural Institutions:
Ministry of Textiles, Government of India: This ministry often has directories or contact points for artisans and craftspersons.

Craft Melas and Exhibitions: Attend national craft fairs like Surajkund Mela, Delhi Haat, or Odisha’s own Toshali National Crafts Mela, where artisans showcase their work.

5. Academic and Cultural Research:
Local Universities and Research Institutions: Contact institutions like Utkal University which may have departments focusing on cultural studies and crafts.
Craft Documentation Projects: Look for projects or fellowships documenting traditional crafts. They often have extensive networks of artisans.

6. NGOs and Non-Profits:
Craft NGOs: Organizations such as Dastkar, All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA), and other NGOs working in the field of crafts and livelihoods can provide connections.

Sample Approach:
Initial Contact: Start by visiting the Utkalika website or their local outlets in Odisha for initial contacts.
Networking: Attend local and national craft fairs where these artisans exhibit their work. This provides a platform for face-to-face networking.

Follow-Up: Use social media to follow up with artisans you meet at fairs or through initial contacts.
By leveraging these methods, you can build meaningful connections with silver filigree artisans in Cuttack, Odisha.

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