Orissa treasures an opulent artistic heritage that has specimens from the temple architecture as well as the edifices. Skillful artists and craftsmen of Orissa still maintain their native art by continuously processing it to adapt to a changing taste. Be it the applique artists of Pipli or the stone carvers of Orissa, imperious progeny of artist hands carve the magnificent patterns and designs on Orissa's most renowned temples.
The hereditary skills of artists has bequeathed traditional Orissan arts and crafts like weaving of Ikat, Bomkai and Sambalpuri Sari. Stone carving, applique and embroidery are equally famous, silver filigree work, palm leaf incised design, metal work, lacquered craftsmanship all have acquired a unique place world wide. A visit to the Raghurajpur artists' village and Pipli, near Puri, is definitely a revising experience.
The state of Orissa boasts of a strong ethnic handicrafts industry. It has, infact, carved out a niche for itself in the spheres of appliqué work, metallurgy, silver filigree, stone and wood carving, etc. An interesting aspect about the handicrafts of Orissa is that they are directly or indirectly linked to the elaborate rituals observed in context of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the world famous temple at Puri.
The technique of appliqué embodies artistically superimposing cut patches of cloth on top of, or alongside, each other. A base fabric is also used, which is normally very colorful. The use of tiny mirrors in such work is very common and provides a vibrant look to the end products. Appliqué work can be done on bedspreads, pillow covers, etc. This form of handicraft is very popular throughout the state of Orissa.
If one judges by the number of craftsmen engaged in the making of a particular craft, then dokra or brass and bell metal handicrafts will perhaps turn out to be single most important ones in Orissa. Under the category of Dokra crafts, one can find a number of items like figurines, containers with lids, lamp stands, etc. Most of these are inspired by the folk culture of the state. A lot of dokra crafts are also exported from Orissa.
However, the queen of all handicrafts made in Orissa is the silver filigree, locally known as tarakasi. The town of Cuttack and few other villages in its district are renowned for their silver filigree items. The method consists of drawing silver through a number of small holes to make thin wires. These silver wires are then given desired shapes and designs and soldered with pincer and scissors by the craftsmen.
It must be apparent from the numerous ancient monuments, caves and temples in Orissa that the art of stone carving here is very old. Contrary to the sculptors of other places, the ones in Orissa are adept at working with varied materials like soapstone, chlorite, black granite and so on. The same is the case with wood carving in Orissa. A variety of crafts like wooden bowls, incense holder, photo frames and so on are made at the Cuttack town and neighboring areas.