Home Culture Rupa Tarakasi, Cuttack’s Iconic Silver Filigree Honored with a GI Tag

Rupa Tarakasi, Cuttack’s Iconic Silver Filigree Honored with a GI Tag

by Nita Mishra

Cuttack, a city in Odisha, is renowned for its exquisite Silver Filigree work, locally known as Rupa Tarakasi. Recently, this traditional art form has been honored with a Geographical Indication (GI) tag, recognizing its unique origin and craftsmanship. Let’s delve into the history, significance, and evolution of this treasured art.

What is a GI Tag?

A GI tag is like a badge of honor bestowed upon products originating from specific geographical regions. It serves as a mark of authenticity and uniqueness, acting as a trademark in the international market. The Odisha State Cooperative Handicrafts Corporation Limited (Utkalika) made the application for the prestigious GI tag for Rupa Tarakasi.

Origins and Meaning of Rupa Tarakasi

In Cuttack, “Rupa Tarakasi” translates to the art of designing with silver wires. “Tara” means wire, and “kasi” means to design in Odia. This art form involves transforming silver bricks into delicate, thin wires or foils, which are then intricately woven to create stunning jewellery and showpieces.

Historical Richness

The history of Cuttack’s silver filigree dates back centuries, possibly originating as early as the 12th century. It gained significant patronage during the Mughal era, evolving through the hands of various rulers. The art form found mention in a document submitted by the Odisha government before the GI registry, comparing it to similar works from Arabia, Malta, Greece, and other regions.

Craftsmanship and Unique Features

The intricate silver filigree work in Cuttack is predominantly done by skilled artisans, often young boys known for their dexterity and precision. This craftsmanship is distinct from the indigenous silver jewellery of India, showcasing a unique blend of artistry and cultural heritage.

Popular Product Categories

Today, Cuttack boasts a diverse range of Rupa Tarakasi products, including jewellery, decorative artifacts, accessories, home decor items, and religious/cultural pieces. Iconic items exclusive to Cuttack include the Durga Puja Medha (silver decorations for Durga idols), Odissi jewellery, and religious items deeply rooted in Odisha’s customs.

Evolution and Growth

While the core process of silver filigree has remained unchanged over centuries, there have been notable developments in design and product variety. Craftsmen now experiment with different grades of silver and occasionally incorporate metals like copper, zinc, and tin into their creations, adding a modern touch to this ancient art form.

Preserving Tradition, Embracing Innovation

The GI tag for Rupa Tarakasi not only recognizes Cuttack’s rich heritage but also ensures the preservation of this traditional craft. As the art evolves to meet contemporary tastes, it continues to serve as a testament to Odisha’s artistic prowess and cultural legacy.

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