Cuttack’s Silver Filigree Next in Odisha’s GI List

Cuttack’s renowned silver filigree is all set to get the Geographical Indication (GI) tag after the Odisha State Cooperative Handicrafts Corporation Ltd submitted an application in its favour. Traditionally, a part of the Odissi jewellery, the silver filigrees are mostly used as decorative accessories, for styling homes, and even as religious and cultural pieces.

Filigree craft is made after transforming silver bricks into thin fine wires or foils, exploiting the malleability, and then from this intermediate, the final jewellery or showpieces are created. P. Sanjai Gandhi, an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) attorney and advocate who filed the case on behalf of the Odisha Government, said that filigree was traditionally associated with fine craftsmanship and luxurious design in classical jewellery. Cuttack’s uniqueness lies in the fact that all filigree originating out of the city are three dimensional, which also makes them realistic.

Gandhi added that Durga Puja Medhas for the Pandals in Cuttack, Dama chains, Odissi jewellery and religious/cultural pieces were all directly linked to the customs of Odisha. The applicants have traced its origins to the 13th century to show the historical linkage of the art to the region. The Dama chain bears an intricate mesh-like feature woven into each other which gives the effect of an infinite loop. This interwoven set of loops is then moulded into pieces of jewellery. Only women make the Dama chain.

While there is ambiguity over the exact origins of the craft, it is generally agreed upon by experts and historians that the art was a derivative of the Greek, Persian, Mughal and Indonesian influence. As the art had received considerable patronage from the Mughals, conclusive proof of its existence since at least the 12th century was established. Gandhi added how the work was gender-dependent, noting “in Cuttack, the filigree work is generally done by boys, whose sensitive fingers, and keener sight, enable them to put the fine silver threats together with the necessary rapidity and accuracy”.

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