One District – One Product




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Filigree is also called as filigrann or filigrene. The English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen which derives from Latin “filum” meaning thread and “granum” grain, in the sense of small bead. This is a very unique craft form representing delicate jewelry metalwork. It is usually made of gold and silver. This age-old, yet contemporary craft involves the silversmith crimping thin strips of fine silver into zig-zag patterns and loops using it to soldered together to the surface of the ground of designs formed by thicker silver strips and arranged in artistic motifs. In ancient times jewelry of few cohorts was made by soldering together and so building up the gold or silver rather than by chiseling or engraving the material.

History of the Craft:

Archaeological finds in ancient Mesopotamia indicate that filigree was incorporated into jewelry since 3,000 BC. In ornaments derived from Phoenician sites, patterns of gold wire are laid down with great delicacy on a gold ground, but the art was advanced to its highest perfection in the Greek and Etruscan filigree of the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC. It is probable that in India and various parts of central Asia filigree has been worked for the most remote period without any change in the designs. Whether the Asiatic jewelers were influenced by the Greeks who settled on that continent or merely trained under traditions held in common with them, it is certain that the Indian filigree workers retain the same patterns as those of the ancient Greeks and work them in the same way, down to the present day.

The filigree work is also known as ‘Tarkasi’ and is believed to be 400 years old at Karimnagar. Elgandal Fort which is approximately 10kms from Karimnagar used to be the armoury manufacturing unit of Mughals and their descendent Nizams. It was the place for skilled master craftsmen from far distance places, who dealt with different types of metal arts and crafts. The filigree craft was taught to the locals and practiced by the skilled craftsmen of this region. Highly skilled artisans of Karimnagar maintain the quality of work by maintaining pure silver for making these exquisite articles to suit to the taste of the customers. The craft has a good patronize of erstwhile Mughals, Nizams, Royals, and even the local rich.

Development of the Craft:

Karimnagar Silver Filigree craft Cluster received Intellectual property rights protection or Geographical Indication (GI) 2007. O/o Development Commissioner of Handicrafts, State Industry organizations & State Corporations has been constant in developing the cluster and providing the necessity support. Karimnagar silver filigree has gained the identity with One District One Product for Karimnagar District. Since then MSME, DIC and NABRD have been promoting the craft intensively.

Silver Filigree of Karimnagar Welfare Society (SIFKA) at Karimnagar, SIFKA is formed by a group of young silver filigree artisans cluster at Karimnagar in the year 2008 and it is registered under society act. It’s a non-profit organization with vision to revive the silver filigree craft and provide better livelihood to the artisan’s community. SIFKA has enrolled about 520 artisans consisting of 90% of silversmith and 10% of other community members.

Craft Centers :

 Filigree works particularly are unique examples of artistic excellence rarely to be seen in Karimnagar and surrounding villages of Telangana.

Craft Persons:

The Vishwakarma community, also known as the Vishwabrahmin, comprises five sub-groups—carpenters, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, goldsmiths, and stonemasons. Vishwakarma Goldsmiths community are the craftsmen who are practicing this craft since ages. Late Sri Kadarla Narayana was the first to be honored with National Award in 1967 in this region, since then there have been 8 National Awardees from this region who showcased their excellent skills in this craft.

Raw Material:

The basic raw materials used in filigree are pure silver or gold which are formed into wires of the various gauge.

Tools & Equipments:

Iron Tongs: These are holders used to hold crucibles while casting process and for safer and easier handling.

Wire and sheet Machine: This machine is used to size the silver rods into required size as per the requirement.

Compass: Compass tool is used to give accurate circular shapes to the design.

Yeligaram: It is a powder called Yeligaram locally, it acts as adhesive for the welding process. Small silver filings are marinated in this powder and fixed to the edges of the design done on silver product by heating.

Crucible: Crucible is a container especially used to melt silver.

Reetha:  Reetha is a natural seed. Seeds are heated and soaked in the water. The extracted water is used to wash the silver products to obtain shine.

Brass Brush: It is a metal brush used to rub on the final products for getting striking shining.

Drawing machine: There is one major machine that is heavily used and had become an essential part. This is the drawing machine; thick rods are passed through the channels to elongate and thin out the material into various required gauges.

Raw materials used is Pure Silver: Silver biscuits are the main raw material used in the process; the biscuits are melted into the different shapes as required for the design.

Navasagaram: The substance navasagaram (in local language) powder is added to the melting silver to ensure easy flow of the silver liquid, when it is poured into mould. Copper: about 3% of copper is added to the silver to alter its malleability and render it workable. This is added during converting itto rods. Pearls, precious and semi-precious stones: these are used to create an impactful design by embellishing the products.

Production Process:

Making Silver rods and wires:  First the designs are drawn on the sheet, with the reference of final product to be made. The outside frame of desired product is prepared. Silver biscuits are melted and converted into silver rods. These rods are converted into thin wires, which are used to fill in the filigree work. The silver biscuits are placed in a crucible along with a calculated amount of copper, closed from the top to retain the heat and melted. Time to time, with the help of the iron tongs, biscuits are lifted and checked to ensure proper melting of silver. Melted silver is taken out using small crucible for the further shaping. Oil is used to ensure a smooth flow of silver which should not form any bubbles in the rod. The molten silver is then poured into rod making moulds. After some time, the rods are removed using tongs, dipped in water to cool them and they are further washed to remove any marks and impurities.

Sizing process : It is done to make the silver rods thin as per the required dimensions. Prepared silver rods are pressed between the rods of drawing machine to resize the silver strands. The rod passed through the openings/slots of drawing machine to attain desired thickness. The finished strands are then used to create Jaali work.

Mounting: The first step is to keep the reference design ready in the correct scale and dimensions. The silver rods are drawn into wired of appropriate gauges and sizes and the frame is made ready. A ply board or a slab or stone is kept ready on which a layer of bees wax is evenly spread. The frame is mounted on the wax to keep the design steady and fixed.

Framing and readying the wire: The wired take several forms like U bends, shape of 8, spirals, series of triangles, series of U bends and the shape of 9 etc in bulk to aid in the filling. After the frame being mounted, the secondary and tertiary design boundaries/frames are demarcated using thicker gauge wires. The filling details are determined and finalized.

Filling: At this stage the silver wires are shaped, curled, fixed, fitted and cut into pieces and are arranged onto designs frame and is held together by the bees wax onto the board. Then different motif designs are made by twisting silver strands manually using holders and other tool called Podi sravanam locally. These designs are properly aligned in the frame and com-posed by adding several design motifs. Once the alignment is completed, the filigree frame is welded to join the frame-work.

After putting the designs together, the entire frame and the elements are welded together using borax powder and silver flux. This mixed with water and few thin pieces of silver are cut into tiny square bits and used to solder the entire product in place.

Shaping: After fixing the panels of the product together, the product is removed from the setting boards. Then heated number of times and beating with soft hammers to make it pliable to shape required. At this point the product is mal-leable enough to be bent, shaped, curled etc without brak-ing or cracking the product. At this point, the shapes come through and the overall finish and workmanship can be ensured.

Cleaning: This process of heating and dipping in diluted sulphur liquid is done 3 to 4 times to remove the black coat from the design, thus giving it a glittering effect. The edges and thick frames are filed manually to bring out a mirror finish. Polishing is done with brass brush made of small brass strings, which is readily available in the market. Finally, the product is again smoothened and rubbed with a soft cotton cloth. Since the product is heated and polished repeatedly, silver filigree products attain striking shine and luster, which stays for a longer period.

Finishing, accessorizing and presenting: The products are then checked for finishing and few touches here and there are provided. Elements like pearls, beads, clasps, hooks, stones, mirrors etc are fixed onto the product and are made final. Few products like show pieces and souvenirs are placed inside acrylic boxes or framed like a painting. The products are now ready to be sold.

Range of Products:

Silver filigree mostly comprises of Jewelry, keychains, ornamented gift boxes, Decorative utility boxes, athardan, pandan, kumkum boxes, trays, Pooja articles, ornate utensils, vases, Fancy wall frames, Tabletop showpieces featuring famous monuments, figures of animals and gods, etc.


Karimnagar Filigree already had its own distinctive imagery, motifs, and shapes. It is the art to create an eye-catching and balanced composition or display with floral and geometric motifs. Silver filigree work of the Telangana is more thoughtful in design and more extremely varied in the pattern.


The global handicraft market is an emerging market for Silver filigree jewelry and accessory products, especially in the high-end segment. Though the craft had a setback due to the high price of the silver it had regained its glory due to the support extended by the development and marketing agencies both from public and private sectors.


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