Horn articles of Orissa are mystical and are blended with a superb
fashion design. Available in widest spectrum of items like combs, pen
stands, cigar pipes, decorative figures, their lively appearance,
dynamism and animation vie with the real objects of nature.
Lacquer Work is yet another form of handicraft Orissa is famous for.
Lacquer, the refuse of an insect gathered by the tribals in the forests,
is mixed with colors and applied on small cane boxes and terracotta
figures. After several coats of lacquer have sealed the core, the
surface is decorated with motifs borrowed from nature, geometric
patterns and religious symbols. The visual power of colour and design
combine to make an ornamental effect.
Of all the handicrafts of Orissa the most unique and the finest, in fact
the queen among them, is Silver Filigree, locally called tarakasi. The
process consists of drawing silver through a series of consecutively
smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire which are then made into
various shapes by deft hands of the craftsmen by bending them into
different designs and soldering them with pincer and scissors. Silver
used by the artisans is usually of high purity often exceeding ninety
Stone carving is a major handicraft of Orissa. As is evident from the
innumerable archaeological monuments, rock-cut sculptures, caves and
temples built for centuries and embellished with most beautiful and
intricately carved statue and other adornments, the art of carving in
stone had reached in Orissa dizzy heights of excellence perfected
through centuries of disciplined efforts of generations of artisans.
An interesting contribution by the tribals to the handicrafts of Orissa
is the art of Comb Making, known to only 12-15 tribes out of the
sixty-two tribes inhabiting Orissa. A distinct feature of Orissan tribal
community is that those who don't make combs, don't have to buy them.
They can get a comb as a gift or in exchange of agricultural surplus
from others. Since the socio-economic conditions, religious-cultural
beliefs and tradition, and tastes of tribes differ from community to
community, one can find a variety of designs, crafts, colours, shapes,
sizes and materials in the tribal combs. The tribal comb bears the
emotions of its makers' expression of love, and its takers' acceptance
of it. This can be elaborated through the variety in design and usage of
the combs in the following tribes.
Wood carving can be broadly grouped into three sub-groups - painted wood
carvings, plain wood carvings and wood turned items. In the first group
we have painted wooden toys of Puri and Bargarh masks, and idols and
chariot decorations. Popular items are small pitchers with mango leaves
and coconut, glass, bowls, and incense stands. It is interesting to note
that although the process of wood turning with small hand operated
wooden lathe is also used else where in India, the Orissa artisans
prefer to leave the surface plain and they do not lacquer it like the
famous toy makers of Chennapatna in Karnataka.