FILIGREE, a style of delicate wirework used for ornamenting gold and silver, introduced by the Italians, who call it Filigrana, a word com pounded of Filum, a thread or wire, and Granum, a grain or bead ; this is in allusion to the early practice of ornamenting tho wirework with small beads. Wire used for this purpose is seldom drawn round, but flat or angular. The display of filigree work in the Great Exhibition of 1851 was very wonderful for delicacy of workmanship and fantastic beauty. The chief exhibitors were from Sardinia, Turkey, the Ionian Islands, and Malta, but tho native silversmiths of Cuttack have long been noted for tho fineness, neatness, and light ness of their filigree work. This kind of work is executed for the most part, under supervision, by mere boys, whose nimbler fingers and keener eyesight are supposed to enable them to bring out and put together the minute patterns with more distinctness and accuracy than their elders can ; comparative cheapness is perhaps another reason for their employment. The ruling rates for this filigree work are from 2 to 21 rupees; that is to say, taking the first rate, 2 rupees or 4s. is oharged for every rupee weight of finished silver work, namely, 1 rupee for workmanship, and 1 rupee as the price of the silver. The filigree work in gold of Dehli and other places is famed. Next to muslins and embroidered fabrics, filigree work is that for which Dacca is most celebrated; but the art is also practised in great perfection at Cuttack, and in Sumatra and China. The articles usually made at Dacca are lady's orna ments, such ais bracelets, ear-rings, brooches, chains, necklaces, etc., aud attar-dans and .small boxes for natives. The design best adapted for displaying the delicate work of filigree is that of a leaf. The apparatus used in' the art is exceed
ingly simple, consisting merely of a few small crucibles, a piece of bamboo for a blow-pipe, small hammers for flattening the wire, and sets of forceps for intertwisting it. The drawing of silver and gold (i.e. silver covered with gold) wire, used as thread in embroidery, is extensively carried on in several places, and Benares is celebrated for this art. There aro several varieties of silver and gold thread (badla) made at Dacca, as Goola batoon, for tho embroidery of muslins and silks ; Goshoo, for caps and covering the handles of chowries; Sulmah, for turbans, slippers, and hookah snakes ; and Boolun, for gold lace and brocades. Some of it is drawn almost 83 fine as a hair. In the time of Aura.ngzeb, a quantity of this article was made yearly for the court at Dehli. A hundred sticks covered with it, and plain gold and silver badla to the amount of £2000 in value, appear among items composing the Mulbooe khas nuzr, or present of royal clothing annually sent to the emperor. The Trichinopoly filigree work is as light and elegant as that of Malta or Genoa.
Among the manifold and various manufactures of China, the gold and silver tinsel cloths of Pekin stand deservedly in high estimation ; their chief value ariaes from the peculiar property which they possess of never tarnishing or becoming discoloured. The gold and silver filigree work of the Chinese equals any ever produced by ancient Venetian maaters, and their chaaing in silver is unrivalled. Tho art of enamelling on silver is also brought to great perfection in China., and specimens surpass any ever produced at Genoa.— Sirr's China and the Chinese, i. 387, ii. pp. 1-4 ; Dr. Taylor.