Silver Filigree Walk, a Cuttack Heritage Walks initiative, was specially curated to provide a window to the exquisite world of Silver Filigree of Cuttack. Known as Cuttacki Tarakasi it is a unique and fascinating art form. It’s origin is not exactly known, but evidence suggests that it gained credence and circulation during the Moghul era. Presently suffering from government apathy and social indifference, it is passing through a difficult phase.
It has a chequered history. Participants of Silver Filigree Walk on last Sunday went to a couple of workshops located in Alisha Bazar and Mohamadia Bazar area of Cuttck, the original hub of filigree art. They interacted directly with the artists and artisans. Filigree is designed by joining pieces of silver wire of various thickness without using mould as is done in other forms of art.
The process was explained to them by the Master Craftsmen. Now most of them are busy in the making of Chandi Medhas and ornaments for the idols as Durga Puja is knocking on the doors.
A unique creation, Chandi Medhas, which provides an exquisite background to the idols during Dusshara, is to be seen only in the twin cities, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Choudhury Bazar of Cuttack introduced the concept in 1957. For 35 years it enjoyed the distinction of being the only puja pandal with a Chandi Medhas. From 1991, the scenario changed. Now there are 24 Chandi Medhas and three new entrants are jumping into the bandwagon this year. These Medhas weigh between 150kgs to 600kgs each.
Though sometimes criticized for extravagance, the making of the Medhas is providing the much needed engagement to hundreds of craftsmen. There was a severe crunch of demand for silver filigree jewelry and other decorative items. Introduction of machinery has also affected their livelihood adversely.
Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das had promoted Odisha Art Wares in 1897 to promote silver filigree, horn works and other handmade crafts. His initiative introduce Tarakasi in different states of India and abroad.
Sri Bhanu Pratap Sahoo, a representative of the silver filigree craftsmen, mourns the lack of government patronage of this distinguished art form. He says that GI tag for Silver Filigree of Cuttack can redeem the plight of the struggling artists and artisans.
Dr Anita Sabat, well known activist, who joined the Silver Filigree Walk yesterday endorses her views. She requested for the support of the participants and the citizenry for the move to obtain GI tag.
Dr Dipak Samantarai, the Convenor of Cuttack Heritage Walks, urged the enlightened participants to work on a mission mode to preserve the identity of this unique art form and improve the lot of the dedicated artists and artisans.
Around twenty culture enthusiasts from different walks of life participated in Silver Filigree Walk.