Karimnagar: It is the delicate and intricateness of silver filigree that draws the attention of people. Right from the common public to the elite, especially corporate houses, a lot of customers prefer silver filigree over anything else for gifting purposes.
Peacocks, paan-dan, pannir-dan, lute (Veena), plates are some famous filigree items. Corporate mementoes, marriage sets, jewellery, tea-trays, decorative items, replicas of historical monuments and religious figures are a few other articles prepared by the skilled craftsmen.
Silver filigree shares an old relation with Karimnagar. British Queen Elizabeth used to wear the silver crown prepared by Panaiah of Elgandal, the then district headquarters. A number of filigree ornaments and other items twined by him have been displayed in Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad.
However, the 200-year-old craft is also facing troubles like other traditional handicrafts. The shortfall of skilled labour is the major problem being faced by the industry. Though there is a huge demand for gift items and other household articles, the industry is unable to meet the market demand.
The young craftsmen are not showing interest to opt silver filigree as a profession since it involves a lot of skill and patience to twine articles with silver wire. Moreover, workers have to fabricate articles with their own hands since no machinery is available to make these items.
Despite all these hurdles, silver filigree of Karimnagar Handicrafts Welfare Society is trying its best to survive the age-old traditional art. The UNESCO award-winning society, SIFKA also got a geographical indication tag for its silver filigree products.
Speaking to Tabloid Today, SIFKA general secretary, Gadde Ashok Kumar said that educated youth are not ready to opt for this as their profession. He mentioned that like everyone, they are also searching for jobs after completing their studies which is one reason for not being able to meet the market demand.
Explaining about this ancient handicraft, SIFKA treasurer Akaju Venkateshwarlu said that a goldsmith, Kadarla Panaiah started the work in Elagandal, the then capital of Nizam rulers. He used to prepare silver ornaments for the wives of Nizams. Later, it had shifted to Karimnagar town. “Though SIFKA played a vital role in protecting the handicraft, a majority of the people are not aware of the society,” he informed.
He shared that the organisation won UNESCO Award of Excellency-2008, and other national awards that include Best Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEFP) Unit in south zone in 2011 and Best Craftsman award in 2010.