Filigree – a unique art
Those who are aware of the art form, the mention of silver filigree jewellery would, at once, remind of delicate and intricate designs created with silver wires. Filigree is a centuries-old art of crafting metal jewellery – specifically silver and gold. Although dating back hundreds of years, it is a versatile art that has blended well with modern and contemporary creations.
The name ‘filigree’ originates from the word ‘filum’, which means thread. The Italian word, ‘filigrana’ meaning thread and grain sums up the essence of this art form. To keep it simple, filigree as a basic idea is wire or fine metal threads that are put together to create patterns. At times semi-precious stones are set into these patterns.
The earliest references of filigree are made in the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. Historical records suggest that the art spread to parts of Asia in 2500 BC. Research has revealed a number of similarities between Indian and Greek filigree as the techniques and patterns were alike.
There is no exact date for when Indian artisans started to work with filigree, but historical records point to the mid 16th to the mid 17th century – the era of Mughal presence in Odisha – as a period when the art was flourishing. The art form developed by inheriting essential elements from the Mughal period as the artisans of Odisha added new elements. In India, the art of filigree is practised in Cuttack (Orissa) and Karimnagar (Telangana).